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Discover America’s Roots In Virginia’s National Monuments

Photo Courtesy NPS

The early story of the United States is one of struggle and triumph, oppression and defiance, and David versus Goliath. Where one may fall on either side of that argument is another question. However, for a young America, conflict was the order of the day in those nascent decades after the Declaration of Independence.  

From the Revolutionary War through the War of 1812 to the Civil War, the first few years of the country’s story are written in hardship, war, and general upheaval. One state in the Union was on the front lines of this struggle: The Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The home of numerous presidents, generals, diplomats, thinkers, leaders, and innovators, “Old Virginia’s” take is vital to the founding and development of the U.S.

Virginia has quite a story to tell, and thankfully, present-day Americans can learn about this story, including the hard-learned lessons and the progress hard-earned, by visiting one of the state’s many National Monuments.

Read on to learn more about the Commonwealth’s preserved history in one of these special memorials:

George Washington Birthplace National Monument: Sometimes referred to as the “Mother of Presidents,” Virginia gets its name honestly as the country’s first president — George Washington — was born there. This National Monument in the Northern Neck of the state commemorates his incredible life. Visitors today can explore the more than 500 acres of federal campus dedicated to the great general and president. They can visit the many exhibits to learn more about the man who would lead a revolution, then a nation, and then refuse to be a king, cementing representative democracy as a foundational bedrock of the barely settled country. Americans interested in the Founding Fathers should check out the site.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Fort Monroe National Monument: Sometimes called the “Gibraltar of the Chesapeake,” Fort Monroe has been a bulwark against numerous foes dating back to the earliest settlements in present-day Virginia. This National Monument stands today to tell its tale! From the early conflicts with Indigenous people to the adventures of Captain John Smith’s first explorations of the area to the first enslaved Africans who landed on American soil through the Civil War, Fort Monroe has been a constant throughline in all these stories. There is little Fort Monroe hasn’t seen in its existence, and today, visitors can learn all about its tales of tough-hewn hardship and eventual triumph. This National Monument is a history buff’s paradise!

Photo Courtesy NPS

Booker T. Washington National Monument: Virginia is home to more than just presidents, as this National Monument near Hardy, Virginia, can attest! The famous inventor and innovator Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in April 1856 in Franklin County. After the end of the Civil War, Washington would go on to attend school and fashion himself into one of the foremost thinkers and influential African Americans of his time. Visitors today can walk in his footsteps and learn about the virtually incalculable impact this citizen from a small corner of Virginia had upon American history and the world.

Photo Courtesy NPS

History of the Marine Corps War Memorial: One of the most famous images, the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima, in American military history is fittingly enshrined in statue form at this War Memorial dedicated to one of the country’s most storied branches of its military: The Marine Corps. The entire history of the Marine Corps, dating back to 1775, is told here and is a sobering yet triumphant story that all citizens should know. Along the axis of Washington’s famous National Mall, this site in Arlington, Virginia, preserves that story for future generations. For those interested in military history or simply interested in the history of a young U.S. through the World Wars, this memorial should be on your list!

Photo Courtesy NPS

The National D-Day Memorial: This memorial in Bedford, Virginia, commemorates one of the most famous military operations and one of the harrowing days in American history: D-Day. The storming of the beaches at Normandy, the immense loss, and the ultimate victory over the Axis powers during World War II is a story that has been told countless times, and the National D-Day Memorial stands to make sure that story never stops being told. D-Day veterans spearheaded the push to build the memorial, and after decades of hard work, the ground was broken on the Memorial on Veterans Day 1997. Tens of thousands visit the site every year, making it one of Virginia’s most popular attractions. Given the chance, every American should stop in to learn and honor the immense sacrifice of the brave soldiers who paid the ultimate price for their country and humankind. 

Photo Courtesy D-Day

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