For Memorial Day and Every Day – Great Places to Visit So We Never Forget
Memorial Day unofficially commences the start of the Summer season. But it’s so much more.
This morning I watched Coco for the first time with my son. If you’ve seen this movie you will understand why this is pertinent. But if you haven’t seen it, I won’t give it away, just be sure to rent it or buy it (yes, it’s that good).
It got me thinking about everyone who has gone before me, but specifically family and friends who never got to see the sun set on a long life. And as time marches on, without descendants, their legacy can quite literally disappear into the sands of time.
My grandmother’s cousin was killed at the Battle of Cherbourg very shortly after the Battle of Normandy, in France. His body wasn’t returned to the United States for over 4 years and so my family, like so many others, couldn’t even truly mourn him. He was only 19 years and a few days old. His name is etched in stone at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. and I hope to take Enzo there soon so he can see that.
Military history and the representation of sacrifice surrounds us in the Mid-Atlantic and you don’t need to have a direct connection to the military to pay your respects not just on Memorial Day, but any day of the year. Visiting one of these many monuments or museums not only gives you an opportunity to spend (non-digital) quality time with your children but to instill appreciation for the the men and women of the armed forces, their sacrifices and those of their family’s.
Memorial Day Memories
My fascination and appreciation for all things riveted, dates back to my childhood. Growing up, I shared my dad’s love of all things Navy and Coast Guard — ships, planes and jets. We happened to live in the perfect location to visit so many historic sites, museums, ship docks and hangars. Delaware is basically right smack dab in the middle of Revolutionary and WWII Naval history.
While my parents’ beach trailer was permanently anchored at the Indian River Inlet and Beach in Delaware, we jumped between Rehoboth Beach and Washington, D.C. like it was a morning trip to the supermarket, lol. We took a lot of day trips and the great memories remain, not to mention how much I learned. So now it’s a big deal to be able to revisit all of these places with my young son, find even more hidden gems and help him to understand what his family and complete strangers have sacrificed so we have the freedoms we do today.
With that said, I hope you will enjoy our list of just some of our all-time favorite sites to visit in the Mid-Atlantic. Consider this part one;)
Some of Our All-Time Favorite Sites To Visit
- Fort Miles (WWII base) at Cape Henlopen State Park
- Lewes, Delaware (Directions)
- Fort Miles is situated “amidst rolling sand dunes, on a high bank overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.” Via foot or by bicycle, you will find “…Battery 519, six barracks buildings, a fire control tower, an orientation building, and the Fort Miles Artillery Park. The museum tells the story of Fort Miles, a key piece of our nation’s coastal defense, from World War II through the early 1970’s.”
- Fort Miles can be reached from Cape May, New Jersey, via a trip on the Cape May Lewes Ferry (a roughly 85 minute trip across the Delaware Bay, with or without your car).
- Admission is FREE
- The Air Mobility Command Museum at the Dover Air Force Base
- Dover, Delaware (Directions)
- The AMC Museum is located roughly 40 miles (about 45 minutes depending on traffic) North of the Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware.The Dover Air Force Base can be reached from Cape May, New Jersey, via a trip on the Cape May Lewes Ferry (a roughly 85 minute trip across the Delaware Bay, with or without your car).
- Admission is FREE
Virginia (Eastern Shore & Virginia Beach/Norfolk)
- Eastern Shore Of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Fort John Custis)
- Cape Charles, Virginia (Directions)
- “Before becoming a haven for millions of songbirds, monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge was Fort John Custis…After World War II, the federal government acquired the land that is now the refuge. During the war, large bunkers housed 16-inch guns designed to protect naval bases and shipyards in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. In 1950, the U.S. Air Force acquired Fort John Custis, renaming it the Cape Charles Air Force Station.”
- Admission is FREE and the staff is very knowledgable about the history of the refuge!
- The Hampton Roads Naval Museum
- Nauticus – National Maritime Museum featuring the Battleship Wisconsin
- Both museums are in Norfolk, Virginia (Directions), roughly 45-60 minutes from Cape Charles, Virginia.Plus you get to go across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
- Admission varies, but starts at $11.95 (child). Discounts are available for active military with ID.
New Jersey (Southern Shore)
- The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
- Cape May, New Jersey (Directions)
- Did I mention that the Cape May Brewery is located at the airport as well?! And they permit children (even make them homemade sodas) under adult supervision. It’s a WIN-WIN!
- The Naval Air Station is easily accessible by all Southern NJ Shore points and can be reached from Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, via a trip on the Cape May Lewes Ferry (a roughly 85 minute trip across the Delaware Bay, with or without your car).
- Admission starts at $10 for children 3-12, Adults are $14 and Active Military Members with ID are FREE.
- The Millville Army Airfield Museum
- Millville, New Jersey (Directions)
- The Millville Army Airfield Museum is easily accessible by all Southern NJ Shore points and can be reached from Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, via a trip on the Cape May Lewes Ferry (a roughly 85 minute trip across the Delaware Bay, with or without your car).