Veterans Day is a time for remembering the men and women who’ve served in the armed forces... No matter where you are, there’s bound to be parades, memorials, and other events to honor the vets, but these are some of the most historically relevant place to learn the stories of America's soldiers and where to go to honor them, and not just on Veterans Day.
If you want to grab a bite with some vets, there’s no better place to do it than at The Bomber, one of the most incredible mom and pop diners in Oregon. Perched outside this restaurant is the business’ namesake – a full size B17 Bomber.
Over the years, the restaurant has turned into a kind of interactive museum, where memorabilia from WWII lines the walls and veterans get together to swap stories.
The USS Midway Museum is something that has to be seen to be believed. The museum is located on the USS Midway, the longest serving aircraft carrier of this century, which is docked in San Diego, a city that has a long naval aircraft history.
Admission comes with a guided audio tour that takes you all throughout the ship, from the engine room and flight control to the galley and the brig. There are also loads of climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits and flight simulators. The best part? The audio tour is narrated by former Midway sailors.
Vets aren't the only thing that retire... military equipment does, too. Pay your respects to some of the hardest working planes that the military has seen at the Pima Air and Space Museum.
If you happen to visit, don't miss out on the bus tour to the AMARG, the airplane boneyard where thousands of decommissioned planes sit. The highlight of the hour-and-a-half tour for most is "Celebrity Row", where you'll pass by some of the most illustrious planes in the whole graveyard. Even if you aren't a military history buff, it's still mind-blowing to see the sheer size of the boneyard, and the rusted shells of some of the military's most powerful planes.
South Dakota is the setting for one of America's most badass, top secret projects: a field of 150 Minuteman II nuclear missiles, armed and ready for launch at a moments notice during the Cold War. The missile field essentially lay in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, which is a quick trip down the road, less than two hours away-- but thankfully, in the 1990's, the whole site was unarmed and preserved for future generations to visit and learn from-- it's currently the only National Parks System unit dedicated to Cold War history. The men who manned this place were on alert 24/7 at the height of the Cold War, and the mental toll was breathtaking.
This is one of the most touching WWI memorials in the country. It's home to the National World War I Museum, which features artifacts, interactive displays including a recreation of a trench, documents, video, and more. If you can swing it, stop by at night to see the top of the tower lit up. It also emits smoke, giving it the effect of looking like a candle burning with an eternal flame.
Everyone knows about the Battle of Gettysburg and that it was one of the most important in the Civil War... but how much do we really know about it? It was a majorly important nugget of American history! Had one of any number of little things gone any different, the South could have won the war; America (and life as we know it!) would be completely different. Once you're done wrapping your brain around that, start considering a grown-up field trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park, where you can brush up on your history, and learn quite a few things you never knew that you never knew!
Arlington National Cemetery is the most heartbreaking spot to visit to remember our veterans. However, the care and attention that is put into maintaining this cemetery is astounding. There is a ton to see here, too: the Eternal Flame at Kennedy's grave, the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the informational kiosk that lets you see if you have any relatives buried here are all touching ways to really experience the emotion.
This year, head to Colonial Williamsburg and spend the afternoon at the world’s largest living history museum. The Revolutionary City is a mile-long restored 18th century outpost, and this Monday’s events will pay respects to some of the America’s earlier patriots.
Explore the armorers and the Capitol buildings to the tune of drums, fifes, and whistles while you experience a military march by colonial solders in turn of the century uniforms.
And remember, Veterans Day isn't the only time to stop and remember the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country. No matter when you visit these landmarks, it's bound to be a touching, if not moving, experience.