(Washington, D.C.) - Following the American Civil War, the first instances of a United States national day of memory began as a way to honor and remember those who died during the conflict. First known as Decoration Day in some areas, the popular tradition has since expanded to become our modern Memorial Day commemoration and remembrance of fallen soldiers from all American wars. Civil War sites across the country where this tradition began continue to serve as sanctuaries for reflection and remembrance, where we can pay tribute to America's fallen heroes. This Memorial Day weekend, consider visiting one of these, or dozens of other historic sites to d honor the lives, legacies and sacrifices of America's soldiers.
Memorial Day Weekend Display at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Ga., on May 23-27
Kennesaw Mountain NBP will host the "Memorial Day Weekend Display" beginning May 23 and ending May 27. The exhibit features military memorabilia and artifacts spanning generations of service from World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/features/waso/cw150th/events/event-item.cfm?eventID=17028.
Memorial Day Weekend Siege and Commemoration at Vicksburg National Military Park, Miss., on May 23-27
Open air concerts and performances by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra accompany programs offering insight into Civil War siege and engineering tactics during the Memorial Day Weekend Siege and Commemoration at Vicksburg NMP. The event honors America's fallen heroes throughout the weekend, while kicking off the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Siege of Vicksburg. In addition to these and other events, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be present for the rededication of the Iowa Memorial on Saturday.
Avenue of Flags (Memorial Day) at Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery, Ga., on May 24-27
The site of the Camp Sumter military prison during the Civil War, Andersonville NHS also honors all American prisoners of war. Visitors will experience the Avenue of Flags on Memorial Day at the historic Civil War prison site. Only flown five times a year, these flags adorn the path from the entrance gate to the Rostrum. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/ande/index.htm.
Memorial Day Remembrance: The United States Military through the Ages at Bennett Place State Historic Site, N.C., on May 25-26
Bennett Place State Historic Site will hold a Memorial Day commemoration honoring all American soldiers who have died. This North Carolina site hosted the war's largest capitulation, when Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman in late April 1865. During this weekend's festivities, military living history experts will represent and interpret soldiers from various eras in American history. For more information, visit http://www.bennettplacehistoricsite.com/events/memorial-day-remembrance-the-united-states-military-through-the-ages/.
Memorial Day Commemoration at Antietam National Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Md., on May 25
Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest day of the American Civil War, hosts one of the oldest annual Memorial Day commemorations in the country. The tradition continues on May 25 with a parade and ceremony honoring the nation's fallen soldiers. The 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard Base Honor Guard, will present the colors during the ceremony on Saturday. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=195756-136211.
Memorial Day Parade, Service and Reception at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pa., on May 26
The Laurel Hill Cemetery, site of Philadelphia's first Memorial Service in 1868, will recreate the traditional Grand Army of the Republic Meade Post #1's Decoration Day service Sunday. The commemoration begins at noon at the gravesite of General George Meade with a traditional service to honor the country's fallen veterans. Other activities planned include wreath-laying and special speeches. For more information, visit http://www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org/index.php?m=4&id=107.
Decoration Day Torchlight Tour at Chattanooga National Cemetery, Tenn., on May 27
Still tradition in the rural South, Decoration Day is a day set aside to remember the fallen. Traditions range from family reunions and graveyard clean-ups to placing flowers at a loved one's final resting place. Chattanooga National Cemetery, part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will host a Decoration Day Torchlight Tour on May 27 to honor those who died in the Civil War. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/chch/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=466240-245777.
These and other Civil War sites across the country provide a tangible link to the nation's past and offer a chance for visitors of all ages to learn more about the conflict that forever changed and strengthened the Union. The Civil War Discovery Trail, a network of more than 600 sites in 32 states, the District of Columbia and three international destinations, is an excellent resource in planning visits this Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Find upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial events using the Trust's Civil War 150 calendar at www.civilwar150.org.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War sites and promote the appreciation America's hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. Trust has preserved more than 35,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.