Summer vacations will look a little different this year than in the past. Restrictions have been put in place, limiting our travels. However, one thing remains the same. Summer is the perfect time to travel to our nation’s treasures. Thousands of people visit historic sites, such as the White House, the Grand Canyon and more, during this time of the year. According to USA Today, there is a top-10 list of United States monuments. Before planning your trip to a national treasure, let’s take a look at three of the monuments on that list and their history. In addition, we’ll look at an alternative way to visit the places this COVID-19 summer.
Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor
One of the most iconic symbols of America is “Lady Liberty,” stationed in New York Harbor. Formally known as the “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” the monument has been welcoming people since 1886, and as an official National Monument since 1924. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France, honoring the alliance between the United States and France during the American Revolution. The monument is a symbol of freedom and hope, as well as a symbol of remembrance for everyone who helped in her building. While at the Statue of Liberty, tourists can walk around Liberty Island (the name of the statue’s location), tour the inside of the statue’s pedestal, or climb inside up to the crown. On my visit to the monument several years ago, I climbed to the top pedestal (the crown was closed that day). It was well worth the hike to see such a gorgeous view of New York Harbor. Also, you can take a short ferry ride over to Ellis Island and the Island’s Immigration Museum. Approximately 4 million people from around the world visit this historic site every year.
The Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Recognized as the nation’s most visited monument, bringing in over six million visitors each year, the Lincoln Memorial is dedicated to the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this monument is made up of 36 marble columns, stairs leading to the interior, and a 19-foot, 175-ton statue of President Lincoln looking out over the National Mall. The reason that President Lincoln faces the Mall is to symbolize him looking over the country he fought to preserve and unite during the Civil War. At the top of the stairs to the interior, there is the quote, “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Inside, surrounding the statue of President Lincoln, are two of his most famous speeches. To his left are the words from the Gettysburg Address and to his right is his entire Second Inaugural Address. The latter of the two speeches was given in March 1865, only a month before Lincoln’s death. Fun fact: there is a typo in his Second Inaugural Address. The word “future” in the line “With high hope for the future, no prediction…” is actually misspelled as “euture.”
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Another popular tourist attraction located in, or I should say carved into, the Black Hills of South Dakota, is the national park Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Mount Rushmore features the faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Along with the faces, the national park is home to the Avenue of Flags, consisting of flags from all the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The creation of the monument can be contributed to historian Doane Robinson. Also referred to as the “Father of Mount Rushmore,” Robinson thought the site would draw tourists to the area. He worked with sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Together, they specifically choose these four presidents, based on their places in history. Nearly 3 million visitors come to Mount Rushmore every year, and if you come during the summer, the faces are illuminated by lights at nighttime.
Touring the Sites Virtually
If you can’t visit the sites in person, the next best thing is touring them from the comfort of your own home this summer. Visit the links below to explore!
Statue of Liberty: www.nps.gov/stli/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtour.htm
The Lincoln Memorial: www.nps.gov/featurecontent/ncr/linc/interactive/deploy/index.htm#/panoramas
Mount Rushmore National Memorial: www.blackhillsbadlands.com/blog/take-captivating-virtual-tour-mount-rushmore-national-memorial
Whether it is summer or not, these places are on many people’s must-see lists. Not only are they historic sites, but they are national treasures that hold a special meaning to our country.