Commemorate Memorial Day Weekend at Eight Battlefields and Historic Destinations
(Washington, D.C.) — Each May, Americans come together to remember the fallen soldiers from throughout our country’s history, including those who served during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. The American Battlefield Trust — a national nonprofit organization that preserves battlefields associated with those three conflicts — recommends eight worthwhile events and activities your family may want to consider for Memorial Day weekend 2018.
May 26: Memorial Day Events at Princeton Battlefield, Princeton, New Jersey
The American victory at the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Princeton in 1777 proved that Gen. George Washington’s troops could defeat British regulars. This Memorial Day weekend, the Princeton Battlefield Society will offer opportunities to watch living-history demonstrations and tour the battlefield. Young patriots can volunteer for army drills to learn how to march and maneuver like a Continental Army soldier. Learn more.
May 26: Memorial Day Commemoration at Fort McAllister, Richmond Hill, Georgia
Join Fort McAllister State Park for an old-fashioned Memorial Day and help pay tribute to the patriots who have served our country throughout the years. Cannon and musket firings and Civil War-era demonstrations will take place throughout the day. South of Savannah, the park’s well-preserved Confederate earthwork fortifications were attacked seven times by Union ironclads. They didn’t fall until 1864, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman ended his “March to the Sea.” Learn more.
May 26-27: “Soldiers through the Ages” at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York
Yielded to the United States after the Revolutionary War, Fort Niagara was recaptured by a British surprise attack on Dec. 19, 1813. It was once again ceded to the United States in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. This Memorial Day weekend, join the fort for a trip through 300 years of military history, with special displays of military vehicles, period camps from the last three centuries, weapons demonstrations, and hands-on activities for families. Learn More.
May 26-27: Military Through the Ages at Kings Mountain, Blacksburg, South Carolina
Kings Mountain National Military Park is the site of a significant victory by American patriots over American loyalists during the Southern Campaigns of the Revolutionary War. This Memorial Day weekend, living-history interpreters will represent soldiers from the French & Indian War through those in today’s military. Weapons demonstrations will be held throughout the day. Learn more.
May 26-28: Living History Weekend and Memorial Day Commemoration at Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland
All weekend, volunteers will present living-history programs and portray soldiers at Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest day in American history. Visitors are also invited to tour the troops’ camp and learn what daily life would have been like for the average Confederate soldier. On May 28, the park will host a Memorial Day commemoration program and a ranger-guided tour of the battlefield. Learn more.
May 26-28: Living-History Programs and Memorial Day Observance at Manassas, Manassas, Virginia
Manassas National Battlefield Park is the site of the 1861 Battle of First Manassas and the 1862 Battle of Second Manassas during the Civil War. It was here that Confederate officer Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname “Stonewall.” On May 26-27, the park will offer living-history demonstrations, including portrayals of camp life and drills, and historic weapons firing. On May 28, join park staff at Groveton Confederate Cemetery for a musketry salute in memory of American military casualties of war. Learn more.
May 26-28: Memorial Day Weekend at Shiloh, Shiloh, Tennessee
Join Shiloh National Military Park for a Civil War music concert on May 26 and Civil War cannon demonstrations throughout the weekend. On Memorial Day, the park will hold a traditional ceremony, including music, reflective readings, patriotic salutes, and the laying of a wreath at Shiloh National Cemetery. Fought in 1862, the Battle of Shiloh resulted in more than 23,000 casualties. It was the largest engagement of the Civil War’s Mississippi Valley Campaign. Learn more.
May 28: Memorial Day at Saratoga, Stillwater, New York
In 1777, the American victory over British Gen. John Burgoyne’s army at the Battle of Saratoga marked a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Living-history activities will take place throughout the day at Saratoga National Historical Park. At 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., park staff and volunteers from the public will be invited to read the names of New York men who died in the Battles of Saratoga. Learn more.
For more travel ideas, check the National Park Service events calendar at findyourpark.com, visit a state park website, search for museums and historic sites near you, or visit the American Battlefield Trust’s events calendar.
In the years following the Civil War, Americans began dedicating a day each spring to remember friends and family members who lost their lives during that tragic conflict. Initially known as Decoration Day, the observance was first widely held on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers, by order of Brig. Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans group.
Since then, the tradition has evolved to become Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May. In 1918, the day was broadened to include the dead from all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. To date, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected nearly 50,000 acres of battlefield land associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War.