On the first anniversary of World War I in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson marked November 11 as Armistice Day: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory."
Armistice Day continued through 1954, when Veteran’s Day became the recognized federal holiday. As of 2014, there were 21.8 million veterans of the United States military. Veteran’s Day is a time to give pause and thank those millions of people for their service to our country.
Military history runs deep within the Hershey Harrisburg Region. There are three distinct locations that pride themselves in the bringing history alive to visitors. These interactive attractions provide a truly unique experience as they tell the tales of past wars and military branches.
The National Civil War Museum sits at the top of Reservoir Park, overlooking Harrisburg’s city proper. This museum is one of the largest in the world dedicated solely to the American Civil War. The museum has more than 24,000 artifacts that include documents, uniforms, and photographs, among others. Self-guided tours are available seven days a week. If you have questions while you’re going through the museum, educated staff members can assist in you.
Just down the road from Harrisburg is Gettysburg National Military Park. The Battle of Gettysburg, fought July 1-3, 1863, was the turning point for the United States Civil War. Start your day at the Museum and Visitors Center where you can see the nation’s largest oil painting, an in-the-round cyclorama painting that features Pickett's Charge. The museum also has the largest collection of Civil War relics in the world, as well as a number of exhibits to explore. Set off to explore the battlefield, where stories unfold on the grass and within the trees. You can also see more than 1,000 monuments throughout the city and battlefield that dedicated to this historic moment in time. Be sure to check out the park’s living history programs where history comes alive through reenactments.
The U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center (USAHEC) is the U.S. Army’s premiere historical research center. And lucky for civilians, it opens its doors to visitors seven days a week. Step inside an amazing museum and education center and immediately get lost in the wonders of the Army. For a truly unique experience, tour the Army Heritage Trail. This trail is an outdoor museum at USAHEC. Covering roughly one mile, the trail highlights each era of Army history with large artifacts including helicopters and tanks. This truly immersive experience even includes living history presentations. Visitors marvel at fourteen full scale reconstructions of various wars our country has fought.
History truly comes alive at every corner of these attractions. Each organization offers reduced or free admission to veterans. Before you visit, be sure to check out calendar of events for great opportunities to learn and support the organizations.