National Museum of the Marine Corps
Kevin T. Levesque—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
By Caroline Hailey / GoBankingRates
November 9, 2016

Originating as Armistice Day in 1919, Veterans Day is celebrated each November as a way to honor veterans who have served our country. The United States Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became Veterans Day beginning in 1938.

Each year, Nov. 11 is a day full of veteran tributes, special events and many special discounts for veterans.

Whether you’re a veteran or not, Veterans Day is always a great time to visit a military museum or memorial to reflect on the many servicemen and women who have fought to protect our country and way of life. See some of the best museums and memorials to visit this Veterans Day.

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1. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Location: Washington, D.C.
Admission: Free
Hours: 24 hours a day

Known to be an emotional experience, the memorial includes the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. It also includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. There are catalogs available near the entrance of the memorial to help visitors locate a specific serviceman or woman’s name. Etching the names from the wall onto a piece of paper is a common way to honor the fallen.

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2. National Museum of the United States Air Force

Location: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. Visitors can spend time walking among more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display as well as thousands of historical items and powerful sensory exhibits that bring to life the history of military aviation.

Exhibits cover many different periods in aviation history, including World War II, the Korean War, the Southeast Asia War and the Cold War, as well as galleries on missiles, space and research and development. Visitors can also walk through four presidential aircraft that transported presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

3. African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

Location: Washington, D.C.
Admission: Free
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m.

The memorial was dedicated in 1998 to highlight the largely unknown story of the United States Colored Troops. The museum was opened the next year and tells the history of the USCT through photographs, documents, artifacts and seminars. Visitors can also experience historic presentations by volunteer reenactors who tell the stories of soldiers who fought for freedom from slavery during the Civil War.

4. National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

Location: Kansas City, Mo.
Admission: Regularly $14 for adults, $7 for Active Duty Military, $12 for Veterans and Active Duty family members. But during Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 11-13), admission for veterans and active duty military personnel is free, and half off for general public.
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Mondays (holidays and summer hours are exceptions)

Since 1926, Kansas City has been home to the Liberty Memorial, which honors those who served in World War I. Decades later, plans were made to create a museum to better highlight WWI artifacts and documents collected by the Liberty Memorial Association, which oversees the monument. In 2004, the museum was designated by Congress as the nation’s official World War I Museum, and construction started on the 80,000-square-foot museum and the Edward Jones Research Center, housed underneath the Liberty Memorial.

Two years later, the museum opened to national acclaim. The museum is dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding World War I and its enduring impact on the global community. It is now home to 100,000 WWI artifacts and documents, as well as life-size trenches, a walk-through crater and a French-made Renault FT-17 tank.

5. Navajo Nation Veteran’s Memorial Park

Location: Window Rock, AZ
Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During World War II, the Navajo Code Talkers played a vital role for American military by providing them with a code that was never broken by enemies. The Navajo people have also been involved in many wars since, prompting the Navajo Nation to build a Veteran’s memorial at the base of Window Rock in Arizona to honor the many Navajos who served in the U.S. military. The park’s layout is in the shape of a medicine wheel, which represents numerous things to the Navajo Nation, including the circle of life. The setting of this memorial park — in the middle of beautiful natural rock formations — make it an ideal place to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices made by the Navajo Nation to our country’s wars.

6. U.S. Naval Academy Museum

Location: Annapolis, Md.
Admission: Free
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Located in Preble Hall on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy Museum welcomes more than 100,000 visitors annually from all over the world. The Museum offers two floors of exhibits — including the largest collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ship models on public display in North America — about the history of seapower, the development of the U.S. Navy, and the role of the U.S. Naval Academy in producing officers who will lead America’s sailors and marines. Displays combine historical artifacts with video and audio technology to bring to life the stories of the men and women who have served their country at sea.

7. National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

Location: Columbus, Ga.
Admission: Free admission with a $5 suggested donation
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center opened in 2009 to honor the legacy and valor of the U.S. Army Infantryman. In addition to more than 100,000 artifacts, the museum campus is also home to World War II Company Street, Vietnam Memorial Plaza — featuring the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall — and is the future site of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial.

Visitors can also enjoy interactive exhibits and video presentations on display to experience the American Infantryman’s journey to defeat tyranny. Other attractions include the Hall of Valor, the Ranger Hall of Honor and the Armory and Cavalry Gallery. Coming soon, visitors can also try their hand at the combat and rifle range simulators.

8. National Naval Aviation Museum

Location: Pensacola, Fla.
Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

The National Naval Aviation Museum boasts 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. Some highlights include the NC-4, SBD Dauntless Bureau Number 2106, the Que Sera Sera, the last combat F-14D Tomcat and more. While admission is free at the museum, tickets to ride the flight simulators cost between $6 and $20. Riders can experience flight in a Navy F/A-18 Hornet, including high-performance turns and maneuvers, or do battle in the Iraqi desert by piloting an aircraft carrier in the Desert Storm Simulation.

9. National Museum of the Marine Corps

Location: Triangle, Va.
Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Christmas Day

Opened in 2006, the National Museum of the Marine Corps preserves and exhibits material history of the U.S. Marine Corps. Visitors can learn about the Marine Corps’ early years, from the first recruiting efforts in 1775 through World War I while also passing through German lines in France at Belleau Wood, where Marines earned the nickname “Teufelhunden,” better known as “Devil Dog.” Individual galleries depict specific eras and highlight Marine contributions to significant events in American history.

Galleries include exhibits on the American Revolution, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Global Expeditionary Force, Marine training and more. This museum is still adding new galleries, and the final phase of construction will be completed in 2018.

10. USS Arizona Memorial

Location: Honolulu
Admission: Free, but a timed ticket is required
Hours: Open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 pm, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was considered one of the deadliest attacks in our history. The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people, almost half of which died on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers.

The sunken battleship remains in the harbor today, attracting about 4,000 visitors daily to the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built on top of the ship in 1962 — though it isn’t touching it. The USS Arizona Memorial program begins at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Visitors start with a documentary in the center’s theater, followed by a boat ride to the memorial and time for reflection.

11. USS Midway Museum

Location: San Diego, Calif.
Admission: $20 for adults age 18 and up, $10 for retired military members with valid ID. Get $2 off ticket prices when you buy online.
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Visitors to the USS Midway can experience life at sea aboard one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers. There are more than 60 exhibits narrated by Midway sailors during a self-guided audio tour that includes everything from the bunks and mess hall to the sick bay and meeting rooms, allowing visitors to get a feel of what it was like aboard. After walking through the Midway, visitors can walk onto the ship’s flight deck and check out more than 20 restored aircraft dating back to WWII.

12. National Veterans Art Museum

Location: Chicago, Ill.
Admission: Free
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The National Veterans Art Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of art inspired by combat and created by veterans. Originally opening in 1981 with a focus on the Vietnam War, the museum now includes art by veterans of all wars. The museum’s main goal is to use art as a way to open a dialogue on the lasting impact of war. Its permanent collection features more than 2,500 works of art, including paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry and music.

13. Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

Location: Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Admission: $22 for adults, $17 for active duty military, free for active duty military in uniform, $14 for children age 6 to 11
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is located on Charleston Harbor and boasts an impressive collection of different ships, aircraft and other exhibits. The most popular attraction is the World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. As WWII’s famous “Fighting Lady,” the Yorktown played a significant role in the Pacific offensive from late 1943 and ended with the surrender of Japan in September 1945. Visitors should take time to visit the Medal of Honor Museum, located on the ship. It pays tribute to American heroes who died for their country — from the first Medal of Honor recipients during the Civil War to the War on Terror in the Middle East.

The museum is also home to numerous aircraft, including an F-14A Tom Cat, a two-seat long-range interceptor and fighter bomber capable of reaching speeds up to 1,544 miles an hour.

14. National World War II Museum

Location: New Orleans, La.
Admission: $26 for adults, $16.50 for military members with ID, free for WWII Veterans
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience during WWII — from why it was fought, how it was won and its impact today.

Originally founded in 2000 as the D-Day Museum, The National WWII Museum details the global conflict from all aspects, from industrial efforts on the Home Front to the combat experience of the American soldier overseas.

In addition to its many galleries and interactive exhibits honoring the Greatest Generation, the museum is home to 100,000 artifacts, including Allied and Axis uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, diaries, photographs and other mementos.

15. Arlington National Cemetery

Location: Arlington, Va.
Admission: Free
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in October through March; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in April through September

When talking about museums and memorials to visit to honor veterans, the Arlington National Cemetery should not be forgotten. The cemetery serves as a national shrine to those who have honorably served our nation during times of war — including every military conflict in American history — and during times of peace. The cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families.

The cemetery’s history dates back to the Civil War. The property, owned by George Washington’s step-grandson, became a burial location when Civil War casualties overwhelmed nearby cemeteries. The first military burial took place on May 13, 1864, for Pvt. William Christman. That next month, the War Department officially set aside approximately 200 acres of the property to use as a cemetery. By the end of the war, thousands of service members and former slaves were buried there. It has since grown to 624 acres.

16. Gettysburg Battlefield

Location: Gettysburg, Pa.
Admission: Free
Hours: Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 and 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 1 through Oct. 31 with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The Battle of Gettysburg is known as a turning point in the Civil War. The Union victory at Gettysburg ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address.”

The battlefield is home to monuments for both Union and Confederate troops. Gettysburg National Military Park preserves one of the world’s largest collections of outdoor sculptures. Close to 1,400 statues, sculptures, markers and tablets stand where men fought and many died for their side.

17. Marine Corps War Memorial

Location: Arlington, Va.
Admission: Free
Hours: Memorial grounds are open daily from 6 a.m. until midnight

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial honors Marines and all those who have fought beside them. The statue is based on an iconic image of the second flag-raising on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II, but the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775. During the creation of the statue, the three survivors of the flag raising posed for the sculptor as he modeled their faces in clay. All available pictures and physical statistics of the other three marines were collected and then used in the modeling of their faces. The memorial was dedicated in 1954.

18. World War II Memorial

Location: Washington, D.C.
Admission: Free
Hours: 24 hours a day

The World War II Memorial honors the service of sixteen million members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the more than 400,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice and the countless millions who supported the war from the homefront.

The memorial features 24 bronze panels that tell the story of America’s experience in WWII. There are specific granite columns that represent each U.S. state and territory at the time of the war, as well as quotes and other information showcasing the efforts Americans undertook to win the war. A wall of gold stars reminds all of the price that hundreds of thousands of Americans paid to win that victory.

The memorial was dedicated on May 29, 2004, during a four-day “grand reunion” of veterans on the National Mall that honored the legacy of “The Greatest Generation.“

19. The Veterans Memorial Museum of Branson

Location: Branson, Mo.
Admission: $16.95 for adults, $13.99 for veterans and military members
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the exception of Christmas Day

Visitors to the Veterans Memorial Museum of Branson can explore the 10 great halls covering the wars and conflicts fought during the 20th Century. Exhibits start in the World War I Hall, progressing through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and more.

Each hall features dramatic and thought provoking exhibits, including sculptures, murals, historical artifacts, art and thousands of authentic memorabilia honoring all branches of service. The museum also honors the men and women killed in action by displaying their names on the walls of the halls.

20. United States Army Aviation Museum

Location: Fort Rucker, Ala.
Admission: Free though donations are encouraged
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

The U.S. Army Aviation Museum maintains about 50 restored and one-of-a-kind aircraft, which are displayed both inside and outside on the museum grounds. Museum galleries represent the Army’s involvement in military aviation from the beginning days with the Wright brothers and the early combat aircraft of World War I, up to the highly technological machines such as the AH-64 Apache and the UH-60 Blackhawk flown by Army aviators today.

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The different aircraft on display demonstrate the versatile ways in which they were each used by the Army. The museum also tells the human side of Army aviation by featuring memorabilia and photo essays that capture the human spirit of the Army’s aviation history.

This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.

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