With Veterans Day approaching Americans are encouraged to reflect on the sacrifices of our troops and thank those who served. If you’re traveling this November and want to find a unique way to honor our troops or learn more about the history of the United States Military, here are some destinations you will not want to miss.
1. Wright Patterson Air Force Base- Dayton, OH
In addition to being one of the largest and complex bases of the U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton is also home to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ohio, the National Museum of the United States Air Force. As the oldest and largest military aircraft museum in the world, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force houses over 360 aircraft and missiles, including several presidential planes and military planes dating back to World War II. The museum also hosts dozens of artifacts detailing the history of aviation from the earliest experiments of the Wright Brothers to the creation of NASA and the development of space travel. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is always free.
2. National Veterans Art Museum- Chicago, IL
Established in 1981 to showcase the artistic reflections of a group of Vietnam War veterans, the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago now houses over 2,500 works of art created by veterans from all military conflicts including the Gulf War and the War on Terror in its permanent collection. Featuring works of painting, drawing, sculpture, and even poetry, this moving gallery aims to “bridge the gap between the perception and the reality of the veteran experience.” Currently the museum is hosting a special exhibit “Back to the ‘The Nam,’” a reflective, autobiographical art series by artist Maurice Costello. For more information about the museum, its mission, and the special exhibition visit https://www.nvam.org/.
3. Pearl Harbor National Memorial- Honolulu, HI
On December 7, 1941 the United States was pulled into World War II by the Japanese bombing of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. Today, the base serves as a memorial to the 2,400 Americans killed in the attack and to the troops who served on the war’s front in the Pacific. The site, now operated by the U.S. National Park service includes exhibits on the attack and the war in the Pacific, as well as the Pearl Harbor Aviation museum, the now retired U.S.S. Missouri (on which the war was officially ended), and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial where guests can visit the sunken battleship itself and pay respects to the men who died aboard it and are still interred within its hull. Access to the memorial is free but reservations are recommended. More information about the park, exhibit tickets, and reservations is available at the National Park
4. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum- Houston, TX
Looking for a unique take on military history? The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the military service of African Americans. Named for the black soldiers who served in the U.S. Army during the westward movement after the Civil War, this small but intimate museum explores the history of African American military service from the Revolutionary War to the present. The museum is open Monday through Saturday with free admission on Thursdays. See the museum website for specific hours and information on special programs.
5. U.S.S. Constitution- Boston, MA
For a family friendly way to learn more about our country’s military try paying a visit to the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Launched in 1797, “Old Ironsides” gained notoriety for her defeat of five British warships in the War of 1812. Still manned by active duty U.S. Navy troops and capable of sailing under her own power to this day, the Constitution now hosts educational tours and special events in her home port of Boston at the end of the city’s Freedom Trail. While you visit you can also stop in to the U.S.S. Constitution Museum for a closer look at the ship’s history, artifacts from her sailing days, and hands on exhibits. The Museum is open daily, hours for visiting the ship vary by season.
6. National WWII Museum- New Orleans, LA
Originally founded as the D-Day Museum recognizing the city’s major contribution to the invasion which turned the tide of World War II, this sprawling campus in New Orleans was designated by Congress as the official World War II museum of the United States in 2003. Dedicated to remembering the American Experience during “the war that changed the world,” the National World War II Museum houses exhibits on the amphibious invasions of Normandy and the Pacific Theatre (made possible by vehicles designed, built, and tested in New Orleans), life on the home front in American, and interactive experience documenting the
harrowing final mission of the subarmine, the U.S.S. Tang. A partner of the Smithsonian Institution, the National WWII Museum is continuously expanding to bring to life the history and stories of this pivotal moment in American and World History.
7. The National Mall- Washington D.C.
There is perhaps no better place to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces than our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. An afternoon’s walk around the National Mall gives visitors the perfect opportunity to reflect on the work of our service men and women through the ages and pay their respects to the soldiers who fought and died in World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. A visit to the National Mall also puts visitors within walking distance of the Smithsonian’s American History and Air & Space museums where a hundreds of artifacts of military history including the original “Star Spangled Banner.”