(Washington, D.C.) – Following the American Civil War, the first instances of a United States national day of memory honored and remembered those who died during the conflict. First known as Declaration Day in some areas, the popular tradition has since expanded to become our modern Memorial Day commemoration of fallen soldiers from all American wars. Battlefield sites across the country continue to serve as sanctuaries for reflection and remembrance, where tribute is paid to America’s fallen heroes.
May is also Preservation Month, a time to celebrate the historic sites that are special to you. As you reflect on the service of America’s veterans, join with our partners at the National Trust for Historic Preservation to shine a spotlight on the historic places you care about in your community. Share your photos online using #ThisPlaceMatters.
For Preservation Month and Memorial Day weekend, consider visiting one of these, or dozens of other historic sites to honor the lives, legacies and sacrifices of America’s soldiers and instill in future generations the importance of respecting and preserving our nation’s historic sites.
May 7-8: Civil War Reenactment at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Potomac, Maryland
Enjoy two days of living history at Great Falls Tavern with the 20th Maine. Experience the area as it would have looked at various times throughout the Civil War. More information: nps.gov/choh
May 8: Mother’s Day Tribute at Ellwood Manor, Locust Grove, Virginia
Listen to live Civil War-era music, talk to a living historian and hear letters from Civil War soldiers to their mothers, wives and grandmothers as a special Mother’s Day tribute. More information: fowb.org
May 13: Grand Opening of Resaca Battlefield Historic Site, Resaca, Georgia
The Friends of Resaca Battlefield will celebrate the official opening of Resaca Battlefield Historic Site, preserving approximately 1,100 acres of the 1864 battle in Gordon County, Georgia. More information: resacabattlefield.org
May 14-15: Battle Anniversary at Richmond National Battlefield Park, Richmond, Virginia
The battle of Drewry’s Bluff was the only naval battle fought near Richmond during the Civil War. In May 1862 Union ships sailed up the James River to capture the Confederate capital, but were stopped at Fort Darling. Rangers will offer guided tours and reenactors will portray Marines, soldiers and sailors. More information: nps.gov/rich
May 21: Living History at Johnsonville State Park, Johnsonville, Tennessee
Visit Johnsonville State Historic Park for a living history event. Union troops will demonstrate camp life, military drilling and Civil War cooking, and explain the role of artillery in the November 4, 1864 Battle of Johnsonville. More information: tnstateparks.com
May 28-30: Memorial Day Weekend at Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, New York
A weekend of events at Fort Ticonderoga will salute the service of the American armed forces with fife and drum music, musket firing and tours of Mount Defiance and colonial gardens. More information: fortticonderoga.org
May 30: Memorial Day at Fort McHenry National Monument & Loudon Park National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland
Once the center of Memorial Day commemorations in Baltimore, Loudon Park National Cemetery contains thousands of Union soldiers’ graves. Fort McHenry rangers will join with veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War for a service of music, musket salute and wreath laying. At Fort McHenry, rangers will speak on the origin of Memorial Day and recreate a historic 1880 Memorial Day observance. More information: nps.gov/fomc
For more events, check the events calendar of National Park Service centennial commemorations at findyourpark.com, visit your state park website or search for museums and historic sites near you.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved close to 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states.
The Civil War Preservation Trust became the Civil War Trust in January 2011; the Civil War Trust became a division of the American Battlefield Trust in May 2018. Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.