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VFW Magazine August 2016 : Page 18

NATIONAL PARKS: FORT McHENRY NATIONAL MONUMENT— War of 1812 Baltimore, Md. ‘VAST SCHOOLROOMS OF AMERICANISM’ NATIONAL PARK SERVICE America’s vast network of national parks not only showcases natural wonders but also the sacrifices of the nation’s warriors. B Y R OBERT W IDENER n Aug. 25, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary. It is still going strong. In 2015, more than 307 million visi-tors enjoyed park sites, a record-breaking number for a single year. While the natural parks are internationally known, many historical sites receive less notoriety. Yet there are at least 90 NPS places in 10 cate-gories with a primary military theme: historical parks, sites, monuments, war memorials, battlefields, military parks, battlefield parks, historic sites, a memo-rial park and one battlefield monument. Not surprisingly, America owes creation of the national military parks to war vet-erans. The 1890s ushered in an era of Civil War remembrance and reverence. On Aug. 19, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed into law the first—Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Union Army BOSTON NATIONAL HISTORICAL vets Henry V. Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer PARK, BUNKER HILL MONUMENT— had conceived the idea for it two years earlier. Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 Dedicated officially on Sept. 18-20, 1895, it Charlestown, Mass. became the prototype of all the national military O 18 • VFW • AUGUST 2016

National Parks: ‘Vast Schoolrooms Of Americanism’

Robert Widener

‘VAST SCHOOLROOMS OF AMERICANISM’

America’s vast network of national parks not only showcases natural wonders but also the sacrifices of the nation’s warriors.

On Aug. 25, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary. It is still going strong. In 2015, more than 307 million visitors enjoyed park sites, a record-breaking number for a single year.

While the natural parks are internationally known, many historical sites receive less notoriety. Yet there are at least 90 NPS places in 10 categories with a primary military theme: historical parks, sites, monuments, war memorials, battlefields, military parks, battlefield parks, historic sites, a memorial park and one battlefield monument.

Not surprisingly, America owes creation of the national military parks to war veterans. The 1890s ushered in an era of Civil War remembrance and reverence. On Aug. 19, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed into law the first—Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Union Army vets Henry V. Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer had conceived the idea for it two years earlier.

Dedicated officially on Sept. 18-20, 1895, it became the prototype of all the national military and historical parks to come. Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg and Vicksburg soon followed. Originally supervised by the War Department, these sites and others were transferred to the National Park Service on Aug. 10, 1933.

Battlefield preservation was rooted in commemoration. “These veterans who lived through the [Civil] War and now had the power to remember their friends who had not survived were bent on doing so,” wrote Timothy B. Smith, author of A Chickamauga Memorial: The Establishment of America’s First Civil War National Military Park.

“In commemorating their actions, the passing veterans’ generation wanted to explain to the contemporary world and to future generations not only what they had done but also the significance, as they perceived it, of their actions.”

Smith continued: “The establishment of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was thus the watershed event in United States battlefield preservation history. At Chickamauga, the dominant veterans certainly told their story the way they saw fit and thus laid the framework that has stood there until today, and it has only recently begun to be challenged.”

No wonder the first NPS Director Stephen Mather called the parks “vast schoolrooms of Americanism.”

National Park Service Sites Focusing on Military History and Veterans

ALABAMA

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

ALASKA

Sitka National Historical Park

ARIZONA

Canyon De Chelly National Monument Fort Bowie National Historic Site

ARKANSAS

Arkansas Post National Monument Fort Smith National Historic Site Pea Ridge National Military Park

CALIFORNIA

Fort Point National Historic Site Lava Beds National Monument (Modoc War Battlefield) Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial Rosie the Riveter WWII/Home Front National Historical Park

COLORADO

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

African American Civil War Monument
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
World War II National Memorial

FLORIDA

Castillo De San Marcos National Monument
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Jefferson National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument

GEORGIA

Andersonville National Historic Site
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

GUAM

War in the Pacific National Historical Park

HAWAII

USS Arizona National Memorial
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

IDAHO

Nez Perce National Historical Park

INDIANA

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

KANSAS

Fort Larned National Historic Site Fort Scott National Historic Site

KENTUCKY

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

LOUISIANA

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve (Chalmette Battlefield)

MARIANA ISLANDS

American Memorial Park

MARYLAND

Antietam National Battlefield
Fort McHenry National Monument and National Shrine
Fort Washington Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Monocacy National Battlefield

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston National Historical Park
Minuteman National Historical Park
Springfield Armory National Historic Site

MICHIGAN

River Raisin National Battlefield Park

MISSISSIPPI

Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site
Tupelo National Battlefield
Vicksburg National Military Park

MISSOURI

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
World War I National Memorial

MONTANA

Big Hole National Battlefield
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

NEW JERSEY

Morristown National Historical Park

NEW MEXICO

Fort Union National Monument
Pecos National Historical Park (Battle of Glorieta Pass, 1862)

NEW YORK

Castle Clinton National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument
General Grant National Monument
Saratoga National Historical Park

NORTH CAROLINA

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Moores Creek National Battlefield

NORTH DAKOTA

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

OHIO

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
OKLAHOMA

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

OREGON

Fort Clatsop National Memorial

PENNSYLVANIA

Flight 93 National Memorial
Fort Necessity National Battlefield
Gettysburg National Military Park
Independence National Historical Park
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Monument
Valley Forge National Historical Park

SOUTH CAROLINA

Cowpens National Battlefield
Fort Sumter National Monument
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Ninety Six National Historic Site

SOUTH DAKOTA

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

TENNESSEE

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Shiloh National Military Park
Stones River National Battlefield

TEXAS

Fort Davis National Historic Site
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site

VIRGINIA

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Battlefield
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Manassas National Battlefield Park
Petersburg National Battlefield
Richmond National Battlefield Park

WASHINGTON

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

WEST VIRGINIA

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

WYOMING

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

What are you waiting for?

Annual and lifetime passes are available for more than 2,000 federal recreation sites:

Lifetime Senior Pass, 62 or older: $10

Active Duty Military and Dependents: Free

Annual Pass: $80

To find out more, go to: www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

Read the full article at http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/article/National+Parks%3A+%E2%80%98Vast+Schoolrooms+Of+Americanism%E2%80%99/2523118/316955/article.html.

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