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Honor, Educate & Heal: Five Places To Pay Tribute To The Fallen This Memorial Day

March To Freedom - Franklin, Tennessee

For many, Memorial Day weekend means that summer is about to kick off. But it’s more than a just a long weekend, of course. This year, take some time to explore the monuments, museums and attractions that pay tribute to the American men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

March to Freedom Statue | Franklin, Tennessee

Located at the foot of Franklin’s historic courthouse, the March to Freedom statue honors the Black enslaved men of the U.S. Colored Troops, a segregated part of the Union Army during the Civil War. For many decades, Franklin’s history was interpreted almost entirely through the lens of the wealthy white people who once lived here. However, much of Franklin was built on the backs of its Black sons and daughters. In recent years, local residents have worked with city leaders to bring those painful stories to light through a project named The Fuller Story. The statue, one of only a few to depict an African American Civil War soldier, brought many to tears when it was unveiled.

Freeport Veterans Memorial at Casey Park | Freeport, Florida

Located in northwest Florida, the Freeport Veterans Memorial at Casey Park is a decade-in-the-making passion project that honors active, retired, and fallen service members and their families. The lush green space evokes a peaceful and tranquil backdrop for the various statues and memorials scattered throughout including: “The Grace Project,” which pays tribute to women in service; “Homecoming,” dedicated to children for their strength in the absence of family members in service; and even a “War Dog Memorial” to honor our courageous and brave animals in service.

Tuskegee Airmen Monument | Walterboro, South Carolina

Tuskegee Airmen Memorial

This incredible monument at the Walterboro Army Air Field Memorial Park honors and celebrates the heroic achievements of the African-American World War II pilots known as The Tuskegee Airmen. Not only known and revered as one of the most respected fighter groups of WWII, the Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for the expulsion of segregation in the military, as the first African American military fighter and bomber pilots in the United States Armed Forces. Although Tuskegee is actually located in Alabama and is where these pilots trained, they actually went through final air combat tactics training at The Walterboro Army Air Field in 1944 before deploying overseas.

Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District | Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana War Memorial Plaza

Set in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District has served as a place to honor American servicemen and women for more than a century. The National Historic Landmark District includes two museums, three parks and 25 acres of monuments, statues, sculptures and fountains. No other city in the United States maintains as many acres dedicated to honoring veterans. In addition to its historical significance, the district is a popular gathering place for events throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the plaza to learn more about its rich history and significance.

The Highground Veterans Memorial Park | Neillsville, Wisconsin

The largest manned Veterans Park in the U.S., the Highground Veterans Memorial Park features a 155-acre park with the mission to “Honor, Educate and Heal.” Here, you’ll find such fascinating tributes as National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean Veterans Memorial, the Military Working Dog Tribute and more. Meanwhile, the Highground Museum’s library boasts over 4,000 books covering military history and interactive exhibits. Set in scenic central Wisconsin, it offers easy access to four miles of hiking trails through pristine forests.