AARP Guide to 10 military museums and historic locations across the U.S.


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There’s no better place to learn about and remember the service of fellow soldiers and Veterans than at one of the many memorials, military museums and other historic locations found across the United States. AARP has developed comprehensive guides to 10 key sites from Pearl Harbor to Boston.

These sites offer visitors thoughtful, moving portrayals of the sacrifices Veterans made throughout American history. Be sure to take a look before you plan your next trip to one of these great destinations.

  1. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans: From the Pearl Harbor attack to victories in Europe and Japan, learn about the triumphs and tragedies of WWII at this expansive (and expanding) Big Easy museum.
  2. Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial: See the site of the history-changing Dec. 7, 1941, attack that killed 1,177 sailors and Marines and spurred the U.S. to enter the Second World War.
  3. The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City: Reflect on the triumphs and many tragedies of the Great War at this moving, must-visit, Midwest museum.
  4. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston: Climb aboard the enormous aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a participant in more than 40 World War II battles, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, across the harbor from Charleston.
  5. Civil War Heroes on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail: The bronze Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Civil War Memorial honoring African American soldiers is a stirring stop in a history-packed city.
  6. Vicksburg National Military Park: Take a long, deep dive into the Civil War at this massive Mississippi site where key battles helped change the course of America’s deadliest fight.
  7. Gettysburg National Military Park: Follow AARP’s guide to Pennsylvania’s famous battlefields, where a major Union triumph changed the course of the Civil War.
  8. Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution: Learn how the colonists reached a breaking point, fought for independence and won the battle at one of Philly’s top destinations.
  9. The San Diego Air & Space Museum Is a bucket-list stop for aviation buffs: See how American warplanes progressed from motorized kites to supercharged bombers with Rolls Royce engines at this Smithsonian-affiliated gem in beautiful Balboa Park in California.
  10. Explore Revolutionary War History in charming Castine, Maine: Explore the historical sites tucked away in this charming New England village that dates back to pre-Revolutionary America and the Civil War.

For the latest news and information impacting older Veterans, bookmark the Veterans, Military and Their Families page on AARP.org.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. William F Ridgley    

    For my money, one of the best museums that explained how politics in Asia led to U.S. involvement in the Second World war is the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. This was the birthplace of Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of Pacific Naval Forces during that war, and, in addition to the museum, his home is also a museum. Some of the other museums have a larger collection of artifacts, but this museum excels at explaining what led to the U.S. involvement in World War II.

  2. Patricia Childers    

    The Military Women’s Memorial at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery (www.womensmemorial.org) honors all women who have served or are currently serving in the US military. Artifacts, memorabilia and personal stories of women’s contributions to our military are just a sample of what you will find there. Registration is free and can be done quickly and easily on their website! Our military story is not complete until all who have served tell of their experiences, so if you have a deceased female veteran relative or friend be sure to check out the website and tell their story!

  3. william    

    American heritage museum in Hudson mass

  4. Sandy Rimar    

    Thank you for the additional list of military museums. Just recently visited the USS Alabama & the USS Midway before covid.
    Our dear friend, still alive, serviced on the Midway during the Vietnam war. He worked in the boiler room. I cannot express the outpouring of thank you & welcome from the veteran volunteers who volunteer there. It is an atmosphere of love for those who served. The USS Alabama brought back memories for my husband who was a gunners mate on the USS Flecher during the Vietnam war. His face warmed my heart!!!!!

  5. Michael Lamb    

    It would be great to see a complete list. There are literally hundreds of worthwhile museums, and a comprehensive list would include those close enough to see for those who can’t travel and/or want to visit some lesser known but worthy destinations.

  6. Jeff Donohue Sr.    

    The (temporary) Korean War Museum in Springfield, Illinois and The Cantigny First Infantry Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois are well worth visiting.

  7. Patrick R Fitzgerald    

    Thank you! It is OUTSTANDING and free 🙂

    1. Richard L. Laney    

      Dragonman’s Military Museum in Colorado Springs, Co. is amazing. Check it out on YouTube… You won’t believe it…

  8. John    

    The 101st Airborne Museum at Fort Campbell, Kentucky – Tennessee was recently updated. Lots of C-47 on display. Its roughly a hour away from Evansville, Indiana’s USS LST 325.

  9. John Ketwig    

    Don’t overlook the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.

  10. Jon J Bishop    

    How is it possible that so many of us had no idea how many places our service and the sacrifice of those who gave all are honored and chronicled? I had no idea.
    One of the newer museums and memorials opened in October of 2018 in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. The National Veterans Memorial and Museum at 300 W. Broad St. sits on a spacious contemplative lawn. It is the United States’ national museum for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. The museum’s main focus is on the personal stories of U.S. veterans, in contrast to other war museums that are dedicated to the conflicts themselves. It is the reimagining of the Franklin County Veterans Memorial, a museum dedicated to veterans established in 1955.
    Someone should write a book mapping and describing all the military museums and memorials across America highlighting all the pride and respect this nation has paid our fallen heroes.
    With all due respect for those who have created and those who dedicate their time and attention to the care and presentation of these memorials and museums, I thank and salute you.

    Respectfully,
    Jon Bishop, 1st Lt. US Army, Artillery, Vietnam Vet.

  11. Howard Bennis    

    How about these: Evansville Wartime Museum, Evansville, In. featuring LST 325,
    Grissom air museum, Peru, In.
    Camp Atterbury, Edinburg, In.
    Vincennes war of 1812 and Military History History Museum, Vincennes, In.
    USS Intrepid, CVS11, New York City.
    USS New Jersey, Delaware River, Camden, N.J.
    Museum of 20th Century Warfare, Ft. Benjamin Harrison St. Park, Indianapolis, In.
    USS Alabama, Mobile, Al.
    USS Nautilus, and USS Eagle, New London, Conn.
    USS Constitution, Charlestown, Mass.
    Museum of Science and Industry, featuring Captured German U-boat, Chicago, Il.
    USS Midway, San Diego, Ca.
    USS Iowa, Los Angeles, Ca.
    USS Missouri, Pearl Harbor, Hi.
    World War Memorial and Museum and Monument Circle, Indianapolis, In.
    Valley Forge, Pa.
    Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J.
    Delaware Crossing, N.J./Pa.
    Lakehurst Navel Air Station, Lakehurst, N.J.

  12. Gregory Meinhardt    

    I’d like to recommend a personal favorite: The United States Army Medical Department Museum on Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Combat medics are one of the most decorated and interesting disciplines in military, you won’t be disappointed.

  13. Monroe Wells    

    The United States artillery museum at Fort sill Oklahoma should be on this list. It is great.

  14. Elaine Williams    

    What about the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola and the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB?
    The list of museums is woefully inadequate!! Try this link for a list of military museums..
    https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Features/story/Article/1641588/guide-to-us-military-museums/

  15. Kathie    

    An outstanding little museum at Camp Shelby- https://armedforcesmuseum.us/

  16. Arturo G Zaldivar    

    A Must see for military aviation: The USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio, adjacent to Wright-Patterson AFB.

    Major Z
    USAF, Ret.

    1. Larry L. Ruby    

      The USAF Museum in Dayton is one of the best air & space museums I have had the pleasure to visit. When you visit plan on spending 4-6 hours.

      A1c
      USAF, Viet Nam Vet

  17. Sue A. Hoffman    

    Again, AARP gets it wrong. The Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, ID is the most personal and educational military museum that I have seen. Not only is it a great museum, but their commitment to honor vets every month with programs attended by over 200 vets from WWII to the present, military flyovers for Memorial Day, and outreach to vets beyond activities at the museum, is second to none. The people who volunteer their time and treasures are amazing and full of information and stories. It’s worth the trip to Boise to see this museum.

  18. Kenneth Montgomery    

    I believe that the National Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston, TX should be listed as a must see military museum as well.

  19. Thomas C Fosnacht    

    You need to add the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

  20. Allen T Wheeler    

    I recently visited The national War in the Pacific museum in Fredericksburg Texas. It starts with the history of Japan which gives you the mindset of the Japanese. It covers every aspect of the sea, air and land battles fought to gain control of all of the islands of the Pacific in order to defeat the Japanese .This is well worth visiting.

    USN EN2
    Tom Wheeler
    retired

  21. Robert Peavey    

    How could you leave off the Marine Corp[s Museum? It is one of the best in the Washington area.

  22. GJ Holmes    

    UDT- SEAL MUSEUM- Ft. Pierce, FL

  23. John Edwards    

    Warner Robins, GA has a great museum. Maybe feature it on a future list, it’s well worth a visit if you come through middle GA.

  24. Robert B Abdich    

    Need to add the U.S. Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia.

  25. June Eldridge    

    One.of America’s quietest is the Military Women’s Memorial. Located at the ceremonial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, this practically unknown and unvisited, memorial shares the remarkable stories of women who have served in, and with, the nation’s military since the American Revolution! Their story is told to children, adults,servicewomen- and-men via guided tours, promotion, re-enliistment,an retirement ceremonies.Their stories are also kept in their archives, and their digital stories of thousands of women who served.

  26. Mark T. Nojiri    

    What about the USS Midway Museum? That is an outstanding museum. Not only was I stationed on her for five years but I am also been to the museum.

    Mark

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