By Jaimi Erickson
As part of a military family, I have become attuned to how our country’s history has been part of the world’s story. That knowledge lets me better empathize with other cultures, and understand the pride they have in their own history.
We are all lucky to have so many opportunities to connect and explore the history around us. In fact, each military base is a memorial to history. Military families are part of the pages of the history books. Sharing the memories of historic world sites and military landmarks has helped my family reflect on the world around us.
Historical Landmarks Near Bases in North Carolina
Throughout our 20 years as a military family, we have explored some truly amazing sites. When we walked the hallowed paths and grounds at each museum or landmark, we felt a palpable energy. The following sites are special places for reflection off the beaten path in North Carolina.
Camp Lejeune — Memorial Park
Just outside of Camp Lejeune in eastern North Carolina you will find a memorial park that will leave you in awe. Walking down a short trail, you will pass a Beirut Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and a reflection fountain. Drowning out all distraction is the sound of the water within the unique glass structure surrounding the fountain. The fountain makes a loud sound that forces you to focus on the impact of all those remembered in the space.
Cherry Point — Fort Macon
About 30 minutes from MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina is Fort Macon, a former fort and prison. Located right on the beach, Fort Macon features amazing vistas of the ocean and a hands-on walk-through of military life during the 1800s. We have walked through the grounds many times, and both children and adults always appreciate the visit.
Wilmington — Battleship North Carolina
Flat at Fort Macon
Nothing provides scale to the military’s population size better than visiting a battleship. When you tour the various levels, bunkrooms, and mess, you get perspective on what military servicemembers endured during the time ships like this were active. Kids get a great workout from climbing all those ladder wells. Visiting the Wilmington Battleship prompts my husband to share some of his memories from being on other ships during his deployments.
Fort Liberty — Special Forces Museum
While we are a Marine Corps family, we appreciate the sacrifices of all branches of our military. Visiting the Special Forces Museum near Fort Liberty was awe-inspiring and great for families! The museum has been so well curated that as you walk through the halls memorializing the Army Special Forces moments in history, you will find something to interest everyone. The outdoor spaces are truly special.
Military History at Home
Military history is not only attached to far-off lands from where we currently live. Right in our own backyard here in North Carolina we have multiple opportunities to explore history. Even our current home on a military base is a museum, since multiple generations of servicemembers have lived here throughout the past 70 years.
History books such as The Story of the World series help us connect the past to the present in a linear way so our children can understand the stories that have shaped our world over time. Being able to visit the sites that are part of the history detailed in those books provides for a more meaningful experience.
As you plan your next family trip, make an effort to explore the locations around you that commemorate what military families who came before you experienced. Visiting these sites provides a tangible connection to the sacrifice of those who serve and a reminder that our family’s service connects into that same history, too.
This season, take some time to visit and reflect on your family’s role in our country’s history. It is a chance to be grateful and humble when we reflect on the service of the families that went before us, and of those that will come after.