Commemorate Memorial Day at Eight Exciting Historic Events and Destinations
(Washington, D.C.) – Following the Civil War, Americans began dedicating one day each spring to remembering those who died during the conflict. First known as Decoration Day, the popular tradition has since expanded to become our modern Memorial Day. From May 27 – 29, Americans will commemorate fallen soldiers from throughout our country’s history. In honor of this time, the Civil War Trust – a national battlefield preservation organization – recommends eight activities at historic attractions nationwide.
May 27: Illumination Ceremony at Fredericksburg National Cemetery
Join Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park for their annual illumination at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. 15,300 candles, one for each soldier in the cemetery, will be lit by members of the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA, and visitors can listen to a bugler play "Taps" throughout the evening. Park staff will share stories of soldiers interred there. The military park encompasses land from the Civil War battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. More information: nps.gov/frsp
May 27: Memorial Day Celebration at Fort Scott
Fort Scott, Kansas
Visit Fort Scott National Historic Site for tours, demonstrations and living history programs about westward expansion, "Bleeding Kansas,” and the war that followed. During the Civil War, Fort Scott served as a major supply depot for Union armies in the West, a general hospital for soldiers in the region, and a haven for people fleeing the war. More information: nps.gov/fosc
May 27: Memorial Day Observance at Sailor’s Creek
Sailor's Creek Battlefield, the site of Virginia’s last major Civil War battle, will host a Memorial Day observance ceremony honoring our nation's veterans. Following a commemorative speech by retired Army Brigadier General Jack Mountcastle, visitors will venture outside for a wreath laying ceremony, a musket volley salute and the playing of "Taps." Park guests are also invited to a reception with barbecue and a living history program of "Soldiers through the Ages.” More information: dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks
May 27: Memorial Day Parade and Events at Princeton Battlefield
Princeton, New Jersey
Fought in 1777, the Battle of Princeton was one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolution. After a Memorial Day parade through the city, The Princeton Battlefield Society will offer opportunities to watch living history demonstrations and join the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment in Continental musket drills. Young patriots can volunteer for army drills to learn how to march and maneuver like a Continental soldier. More information: theprincetonbattlefieldsociety.org
May 27-28: Military Through the Ages at Kings Mountain
Blacksburg, South Carolina
Kings Mountain National Military Park is the site of a pivotal and significant victory by American Patriots over American Loyalists during the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. In honor of Memorial Day, living history interpreters will represent soldiers from the French & Indian War through to today's military, and weapons demonstrations will be held throughout the day. More information: nps.gov/kimo
May 27-29: Living History Weekend at Antietam
Throughout the weekend, volunteers will present living history programs and portray soldiers at Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Visitors are also invited to tour the camp and learn about what daily life would have been like for the average Confederate soldier. On May 29, the park will host a Memorial Day commemoration program and a ranger-guided tour of the battlefield. More information: nps.gov/anti
May 27-29: Memorial Day Weekend at Shiloh
Join Shiloh National Military Park for a Civil War music concert on May 27 and Civil War cannon demonstrations throughout the weekend. On Memorial Day, the park will hold a traditional observance ceremony at Shiloh National Cemetery. Fought in 1862, the Battle of Shiloh resulted in more than 23,000 casualties and was the largest engagement in the Civil War’s Mississippi Valley Campaign. More information: nps.gov/shil
May 27-29: Reenactment and Commemoration at Fort Meigs
During the War of 1812, two victories at Fort Meigs ushered in a period of American successes that would secure the Ohio frontier. On May 27-28, reenactors portraying War of 1812 soldiers and civilians will reproduce authentic military camps and tactical demonstrations in commemoration of the First Siege, and on May 29 throughout the day, they will recreate the aspects of camp life. Special wreath laying ceremonies will take place at the Fort Meigs Monument and Pennsylvania Monument on Memorial Day. More information: fortmeigs.org
For more events, check the National Park Service events calendar at findyourpark.com, visit your state park website, search for museums and historic sites near you, or visit the Civil War Trust's event page.
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 45,000 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.