In 1954, United States Congress officially declared November 11 as Veterans Day, honoring all the men and women who have ever served in the armed forces. Many schools and businesses observe the federal holiday by granting their students and employees a day off. Use your long weekend—or plan a trip in the future—to visit one of these three cities around the U.S. known for their moving war memorials.
No list of memorials would be complete without Washington, D.C., home to the densest concentration of memorial parks within the U.S. As you stroll the tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly boulevards that course through the National Mall, make your way around the burbling fountains of the World War II Memorial, pause for reflection at the thousands of names etched into the black granite wall along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and take in the 19 larger-than-life stainless steel statues depicting soldiers on patrol at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Follow in the footsteps of famous 18th-century American revolutionaries along Boston’s Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile self-guided walking tour that winds throughout downtown Boston, passing national landmarks along the way including the site of the Boston Massacre and the USS Constitution, a warship that saw action during the War of 1812. End your walk at the Bunker Hill Memorial, which commemorates the first major battle of the American Revolution. The 220-foot granite obelisk atop Bunker Hill resembles the Washington Monument, but it actually predates its sister monument by about five years.
On December 7, 1941—a date that President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared would live in infamy—Japanese military forces bombed the Pearl Harbor Naval Base on the isle of Oahu in Hawaii. The surprise attack sunk four U.S. battleships stationed in the harbor, and led to the U.S. declaring war on Japan. Today, you can visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (also known as the USS Arizona Memorial); it sits atop the wreckage of the USS Arizona, one of the battleships that was bombed. With advance reservations, you can also see the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah memorials on Ford Island.