Many national parks have direct connections to the American military – sites across the country commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. Honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country with a visit to a national park.Less
Also known as the Seven Years’ War, the French & Indian War set the stage for the American Revolution. In the summer of 1754, a young George Washington was sent to what’s now Fort Necessity National Battlefield to settle a land dispute between the French and English. It was the only time Washington ever surrendered to an enemy. Today visitors can learn about the early conflict that eventually stretched over 7 years and enjoy living history programs.
The site of the winter encampment of the Continental Army in 1777-78, Valley Forge National Historical Park is regarded by many as the birthplace of the American army. It was here that Washington and his troops developed the concepts of basic training, the officer corps, and the rise of the army’s distinctive branches, including the corps of engineers. Visit Washington’s headquarters or the soldier’s reconstructed log huts, now home to living history programs.
Commemorating the opening battles of the American Revolution, including Lexington and Concord, step back in time at Minute Man National Historical Park with living history programs and more. See the place where colonial militia fired the “shot heard ‘round the world” in 1775, and explore the lives of those militia men, patriots of color, and the women who fought for American independence. Don’t miss The Wayside, which was home to authors like Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
When American leaders declared war on Great Britain in 1812, they firmly believed they were beginning a second war of independence. Though the U.S. failed to achieve many of its aims, the War of 1812 confirmed American nationhood and secured a respect for the new republic among the powers of Europe. Established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial also celebrates the long-lasting peace between Britain, Canada, and the U.S.
Sparked in part by the U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory, the first shots of the Mexican-American War, or the U.S.-Mexican War, rung out on May 8, 1846 at a site now preserved as Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. Fighting along the Rio Grande lasted weeks, and visitors to the park today can explore the ways soldiers and women on both sides passed their time, as well as enjoy guided tours and annual living history programs in September.
From 1861 to 1865, the American union was broken as brother fought brother in a Civil War that remains a defining moment in U.S. history. Its causes and consequences reverberate to this day, including the continuing struggle for civil rights for all Americans. The African American Civil War Memorial honors the 200,000 African American soldiers and sailors that served in the U.S. Army and Navy during the war, featuring a bronze statue and inscribed with the names of those who served in the war.
During the Civil War, the Mississippi River was a crucial economic feature of the continent. When Confederate forces closed the river to navigation, an 18-month struggle began between the Confederate and Union armies. Visitors to Vicksburg National Military Park today can learn about one of the most decisive Civil War battles, and explore the over 1,300 monuments, tablets, and markers that pay tribute to the men and women who were affected by the brutality of war there.
Nez Perce National Historical Park, spanning 4 states, preserves the story of the Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce people, including the Flight of 1877, when, after the discovery of gold within the boundaries of their reservation, the Nez Perce refused to sign the 1863 Treaty, which would have shrunk their reservation by 90%. Distrust between the Nimiipuu and the U.S. broke out into violence, just one of the more than 1,500 armed conflicts fought during the American Indian Wars of the late 19th century.
In June 1876, the Battle of Little Bighorn was fought along the ridges, steep bluffs, and ravines of the Little Bighorn River. The Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes battled the U.S. Cavalry’s 7th Regiment, rejecting the reservation system that conflicted with their nomadic culture. The park’s Custer National Cemetery includes the graves of known and unknown veterans, including women and children from isolated frontier posts, Indian scouts, and more.
In 1866, Congress established 6 all-African American regiments to help rebuild the country after the Civil War and to fight on the Western frontier during the American – Indian Wars. One regiment, the 10th Cavalry, became known as the “buffalo soldiers.” These servicemen acted as some of the first park rangers and went on to serve the U.S. Army with distinction for nearly five decades. This park, located in the preserved home of Col. Charles Young, tells the story of these dedicated servicemen.