Top places to do Memorial Day correctly


By Bre Payton |

MEMORIAL DAY: Remember those who gave all in service to our country.

I was a Memorial Day offender.

You know, one of those people who spends the day in the pool or at the beach. The only pause I took to remember those who had fallen to protect our freedom was to help my dad get our flag out from its spot in the garage.

My parents annual calendar from the Reagan Ranch helped them to remember to fly the flag on Memorial Day, as each national holiday was marked with a baby flag in the corner of the date.

So we made sure the flag was up, then continued on with our day at the beach or hosting a barbecue.

The East Coast changed my ways.

I left sunny California for a liberal arts college in Northern Virginia, just a 15 minute drive from Balls Bluff National Cemetery, where the Confederate troops forced Union soldiers to retreat on Oct. 21, 1861.

After several visits to this battlefield, I started to get it. We get to be free because others gave their lives for it.

I will be sure to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time, and say a prayer of thanks.

Don’t be a Memorial Day offender. Take time to honor those who have died for our freedom.

Here are 12 places to spend time remembering and honoring the sacrifice our veterans have made.

Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day) celebration have been in Arlington, Va., since 1868. Each year, small American flags are placed on each grave.

This tradition is followed by many national cemeteries today.

If you’re like me, and will be away from Arlington, you can pay your respects at a nearby National Cemetery.
Gettysburg National Military Park

Photo by Shutterstock

This Pennsylvania spot marks a turning point in the Civil War, and the bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. soil.

Freedom Trail

Photo by Shutterstock

Located in Boston, Mass., this is a 2.5 mile brick-line route along historically significant sites during the Revolutionary War.

Also in the area, right across from the State Capitol, is the monument to the Civil War’s 54th Massachusetts, the first all-African American Army regiment, depicted in the film “Glory”.

Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier

mary981 /

This is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Engraved on it is the line: “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness.”

Saratoga Battlefield

Photo by Sean Donohue Photo /

Located in Stillwater, N.Y., this location is considered the turning point of the American Revolution.

Fort McHenry

Photo by Shutterstock

This Baltimore, Md., site marks a fort used in the War of 1812. As he sat aboard a British ship in the habor, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem, the Star-Spangled Banner, after seeking the relentless bombardment of the garrison failed to defeat the American troops.

Valley Forge

Photo by Shutterstock

This is the campsite of Washington’s Army during the winter of 1777-1778, and is located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Vicksburg National Military Park

spirit of america /

Located in Vicksburg, Miss., this is a scene of a major turning point in the Civil War. It is where Grant mounted a lengthy and bloody siege to take control the last Confederate garrison on the Mississippi River.

The Alamo

Photo by Shutterstock

This spot in San Antonio, Texas, marks a pivotal point in the Texas Revolution from Mexico’s control.

Memorials to war

Photo by Shutterstock

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the World War II Memorial in the National Mall of Washington D.C. honor those who served in these 20th century conflicts.
Free tours are available all day.

USS Midway

Photo by Shutterstock

This maritime museum is located in San Diego, Calif., and longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

Contact Bre Payton at or follow her on Twitter @Bre_payton.