On Memorial Day, Pay Tribute By Taking A Virtual Visit To A War Memorial

Photo: Brendan Smialowski, AFP via National Public Radio

The nation’s most famous war memorial is Arlington National Cemetery.  it is celebrating the centennial of Amphitheater’s dedication during the month of May. “The centerpiece of the 100th-anniversary commemoration is ANC’s first online exhibit. While Arlington National Cemetery remains closed to visitors, this online exhibit allows the public to virtually explore these hallowed grounds.”  To take the tour and see the virtual exhibits, click here.

According to the American Legion, approximately one million men and women of the U.S. military have lost their lives in defense of our nation since its founding.  Today is the day that we remember them — the veterans who sacrificed their own lives so others could live.  They are similar to the most visible heroes today, the health care professionals and first responders who are risking their own lives to save others stricken by the coronavirus.  As difficult as these times are — and they are very hard for millions of Americans — it is almost impossible to conceive of what those brave men and women who died in war had to endure.

The tradition of honoring war dead began in the years immediately following the Civil War.  It was originally known as Decoration Day, and on the first official one in 1868, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.  Since then, cities and towns across the country have celebrated this day by holding parades and visiting memorials to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Parades are off this year, and many memorials are closed to the public.  But you can virtually visit one of the many National Parks that commemorate famous battles or a War Memorial to continue this important American tradition.  Here are some of the best we have found.

Gettysburg National Park

Fees & Passes - Gettysburg National Military Park (U.S. National ...

Gettysburg National Park Museum & Visitor Center and all its facilities are closed, however, the battlefield and all roads and trails are open.  You can do a virtual tour led by Christopher Gwinn, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Gettysburg National Military Park that takes you to all sixteen stops on the Park’s self-guided auto tour — it gives you a comprehensive and immersive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg that you can experience from anywhere.  To begin the tour, click here.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Pearl Harbor National Memorial - Wikipedia



The Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii is completely closed now.  But there is an extensive video and audio archive video archive with oral histories from Pearl Harbor survivors, underwater footage of the USS Arizona, and personal stories from the Pacific Theater of World War II.

  • Moments of Infamy: takes you to key sites all over Oahu and explains what happened there on December 7, 1941.
  • Remembering the Pacific: presents the personal stories behind World War II’s Pacific Theater. Hear American and Japanese servicemen tell their war stories from December 7, 1941 through the war and the ongoing reconciliation between the two countries.
  • Dive Through History on the USS Arizona: go underwater to the USS Arizona to do research and to check on the structural integrity of the ship.
  • Pearl Harbor Commemorations: watch the events that take place here at WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument every year during the week of December 7.
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor Interviews: watch Pearl Harbor Survivors talk about what they saw and experienced on December 7, 1941.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Maya Lin's Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Changed How We Process War

To take a virtual tour of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, click here.  There is also a virtual Wall of Faces webpage that is dedicated to honoring and remembering every person whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is determined to preserve the legacy of those who sacrificed all in Vietnam.  So the are working to obtain a photo to go with each of the more than 58,000 names on The Wall, in order to give family and friends an opportunity to share memories, post pictures and connect with each other.  In addition, there is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., called The Wall That Heals, that tours communities throughout the United States – so far it has been to nearly 600 communities throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions.  To watch a video about The Wall That Heals, click here.

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