Today is Memorial Day in the United States--a day where we honor all of those who've died serving their country in the armed forces. While for some it marks the unofficial start of summer, it's really not about the beaches and barbecues (not that we don't like beaches and barbecues, mind you). It's about remembering the service of those who literally gave everything to preserve our freedoms.
So, if you're inspired to honor the sacrifice of those who've served, here are five ideas for trips you might take to further reflect on, and honor, those sacrifices.
We recently sent clients to Hawai'i, and one of the highlights of their trip was their tour of Honolulu, which included the Pearl Harbor memorial, as well as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific--sometimes known as the "Punchbowl Cemetery." Pearl Harbor is, of course, where the USS Arizona was sunk by the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. The Punchbowl Cemetery is a memorial to honor those men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces, and those who have given their lives in doing so. Both sites are on O'ahu, and it's very easy to include a visit to those sites, as part of a Waikiki resort vacation.
Just a short drive from Paris, it's possible to visit the historic Normandy Landing Beaches, including Omaha Beach, the Point du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery. Plenty of land tours give you an opportunity to visit these World War II sites, but did you ever think that you might also do a river cruise from Paris to Normandy? Not only can you experience these historic sites, but you can also visit Rouen--the home of Joan of Arc, explore Monet's gardens at Giverny, or visit Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison. And, of course, river cruises give you the opportunity to unpack once, enjoy the scenery, and experience the amazing local food. Ask us about a special culinary-focused cruise on the Seine!
3. Washington, DC
This is probably obvious but think about all of the different ways you can honor the service of our military in our nation's capital. Visiting Arlington National Cemetery. Experiencing the Vietnam Memorial. Learning about the Tuskegee Airmen at the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Taking day trips from the city to view nearby Revolutionary and Civil War sites. Learning about why we fought WWII and the dangers of fascism at the Holocaust Museum. There are lots of great opportunities to explore our military history and to remember the sacrifices that our servicemen and servicewomen have made.
We're not going to editorialize about one of our Nation's most controversial wars, but decades later, travelers visiting Vietnam from the United States are warmly welcomed. Certainly, visiting Vietnam can afford travelers an opportunity to better understand the nature and impact of the war, and the awful conditions that US soldiers experienced there. You can visit China Beach, where American soldiers headed for R&R, but you can also visit the Cu Chi or Vinh Moc tunnels, part of the network of tunnels the Viet Cong dug, which allowed them to move right underneath US bases.
Bruges is a fairytale quaint city with canals and gorgeous architecture. It's also very close to the battlefields of World War 1 in Flanders, including Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, the Hill 60 preserved battlefield with bunkers and craters and restored trenches, and the Hooge Crater Museum. You can also visit Essex Farm Cemetery and dressing station (where John McCrae composed the poem In Flanders Fields). The town of Ypres, the Menin Gate and various memorials to the allied armed forces abound in the area.
Ready to plan a trip to delve into history. Let us know!