There is something about the crisp November climate that makes nostalgia and remembrance seem especially appropriate. With Veterans Day and Thanksgiving in the air, remembering those who have protected our country is only natural. New England is special in this regard as the site of many battles fought to win the United States its independence, and there is no shortage of memorable and commemorative destinations to help you honor this nation’s veterans.
As the first state to officially declare its independence from the British, New Hampshire has long held true to the revolutionary spirit. Some would say that the first real battle of the revolution took place on New Castle Island at Fort William and Mary, now Fort Constitution State Historic Site, when colonists briefly captured the fort and made off with nearly five tons of British ammunition. After a brief walk from the nearby Coast Guard station, you can roam the fort’s remains at your leisure, retracing some of the first steps ever taken toward American independence. Visit www.nhstateparks.com/fortconstitution.html for more information.
The Fort Stark State Historical Site,on the other side of New Castle Island, is also open for visitors to explore. The fort was an active military installation until the 1970s; 200 years worth of Army and Navy veterans accomplished a lot for the nation at Fort Stark. Both the fortifications and the surrounding grounds are worth a visit. Details are available at www.nhstateparks.com/fortstark.html.
No Revolutionary War tour is complete without a trip to Boston, in many ways the cradle of the American Revolution. Visit the Paul Revere House where the silversmith, military messenger and Revolutionary War veteran and his family lived during the war and the following few decades. A trip to the Bunker Hill Monument and the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum is an excellent way to pay homage to the first of the nation’s veterans. The 294-stair climb to the top of the monument is a bit much for some, but those intrepid enough for it are rewarded by a fantastic view of the surrounding city and a serene place from which to contemplate our country’s history. Visit www.paulreverehouse.org, www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm and www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhmuseum.htm for more information.
For a broader perspective on America’s military history, try a trip to the U.S. Naval War College Museum
in Newport, Rhode Island. Dedicated to the history of naval warfare, with specific attention paid to the development of Narragansett Bay and United States colonial history, the museum paints a vivid picture of the strategy and brilliance that have helped to protect our nation at home and in waters around the globe. The museum’s setting, in the home of the original Naval War College, makes it an especially appropriate way to honor the work and study that goes into protecting democracy. Photos and more information are available at www.nwc.navy.mil/museum.
While still in Newport, stop by the Artillery Company of Newport’s museum to check out another angle of early American militarism. First chartered by King George II in 1741, the Artillery Company of Newport became part of Rhode Island’s state militia during the revolution and today, remains a ceremonial unit. Visit www.newportartillery.org for more information.
Learning about our veterans is one of the best ways to honor and respect them, and it can make for an enjoyable trip as well. Take some time this November to explore some of New England’s historic military sites—you won’t forget it.