Tag Archives: 1776

Memorial Day–Memories

Let’s play word association. What do you think of when you hear “Memorial Day”? Okay, hands up, who said “Sale?”

Those of you whose hands are not up—you’re showing your age.

Memorial Day Free Download Poster, Graves at Arlington National Cemetery, American Flag, Veterans Day Holiday
Memorial Day poster, showing graves at Arlington National Cemetery


In the small town in Ohio where I grew up, the cemetery was up on the hill behind the Church of Christ. It was called Schoolhouse Hill, because the school stood beside the cemetery.  And every Memorial Day in my childhood, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) put down their beer bottles, donned as much of their old uniforms as they could still get in to, and held a ceremony up on the hill, distributing flags to all the graves of old soldiers.

In Flanders´ Fields , the poppies blow .....
Red poppy “In Flanders’ Fields, the poppies blew…”

Every house flew a flag, and most people pinned on red artificial poppies that they bought from the VFW–the funds going to veterans in need.

Fallen warriors were not the only ones honored, though. It became a day to honor one’s ancestors as well.  That was the day that people cleaned up the area around family plots, put flowers in pots, or planted them in the ground and stood and thought a minute or two about each ancestor.  People still do that in small town America. So in the spirit of a Memorial Day that used to mean something more than “Sale”, here are some past posts about America and patriotism in travel and books to add to your travel library. So plan a trip, read a book, remember.



WW II Re-enactment

A ceremony in Fredericksburg Texas and a magnificent World War II museum. The book: Fortress Rabaul:  The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943.

Memorial at Normandy World War II American Cemetery
Memorial at Normandy World War II American Cemetery

Visiting a cemetery in Normandy, France, and the battlefields of D-Day. The book: The Steel Wave by Jeff Schaara.

Philadelphia - Old City: Independence Hall
Independence Hall, Philadelphia

A visit to the cradle of America, Philadelphia. The book: Miracle at Philadelphia

Civil War Veteran Grave: Henry Butts
Grave of Civil War Veteran Henry Butts, Danville, Ohio

A salute to veterans in my own family, and books about war. The books: Several by Michael Schaara and Jeff Schaara

George Washington
George Washington

Revolutionary War and early American sites to visit. The book: 1776 by David McCullough.

Here’s a touching post from Vacation Gals about a visit to the Pearl Harbor WWII site in Hawaii.

Remember, you now are able to rate posts (even old ones). Let me know which ones you like and you’ll get more of the same.

For your convenience, I put several links to Amazon in this article. If you buy anything at all at Amazon, please click through one of my links or the Amazon search box. You’ll be showing your support of A Traveler’s Library, and helping me pay the rent on my Internet address. Thanks so much!

Thanks, as usual to those photographers at Flickr who took some of these photos. I took the Normandy, the Civil war grave and George Washington photos. If you are interested in using a photo, be sure to ask the photographer for permission.

Happy Memorial Day weekend. What are your plans?

American Fourth of July Reading and Travel

Destination: America

Book: 1776 by David McCullough

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  But this book focuses on the war that preceded the Continental Congress and continued after the important paper was signed;the war that gave the document meaning.

George Washington
George Washington

In 1776, David McCullough transports us to October 1775 through the end of the war. We are with the troops day by day, hour by hour.  We also read what the British were doing and saying.  The British soldiers were far from home and not overly enthusiastic. While the rag tag American troops–the home team–were cheered and urged on by villagers and farmers along the way.

In the background, the politicians met in Philadelphia and carried on their (to British eyes) treasonous business.

“We are in the midst of a revolution,” wrote John Adams, “the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.”

And as the delegates to the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, McCullough writes:

“..the citizen-soldiers of Washington’s army were no longer to be fighting only for the defense of their country, or for their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen…It was now a proudly proclaimed, all-out war for an independent America, a new America, and thus a new day of freedom and equality.”

The war dragged on but the book ends with New Year’s Day 1777. It ends with just a mention of the surrender at Yorktown and the final treaty that was not signed until 1783.

What better way to celebrate July 4th than to visit some of the less-frequented sites related to the Revolutionary War.

In New York City, you can travel to the very southern tip of Manhattan and be amazed at the cobble-stone streets and 18th century buildings that remain. This was pretty much all there was of New York when the war began. It is easy to miss the small Fraunces tavern where Washington said goodbye to his troops.  A restaurant serves patrons on the ground floor, and when I was there, I had to ask a waiter to allow me up the stairs to see the rooms where Washington met with his troops.

The entire National Historic Park at Valley Forge in southern Pennsylvania is beautiful, peaceful countryside, unlike the rough conditions soldiers faced there in 1776. My favorite spot was the stone house that served as Washington’s headquarters. There you can actually walk up the wooden stairs that Washington climbed to the bedroom that served as his office.

I loved the Pennsylvania park at Washington Crossing (there is another park on the New Jersey side.)  Made famous by the exaggerated painting of Washington standing up in the boat, the park now incorporates some 18th century buildings that you can tour. Drive down the River Road where the troops walked during that bitterly-cold winter crossing that proved a brilliant move as the British were not expecting company in Trenton, New Jersey.

I did not go on to the Trenton Battle Site Monument, the spot of the decisive battle, but that is on my list for another time. Just a small crossroads at the time of the war, the city has obliterated the site of the battle, but a 150′ monument stands where the Americans had their artillery. Fittingly, George Washington stands atop the pillar, towering over the city, as he did over our history.

Finally, visit Yorktown Virginia, where the last battle took place and the British surrendered after being let down by their hired Hessian troops.