Memorial Day often means gathering with family and friends for a long weekend of barbecues, the signal of the beginning of summer.
However, Memorial Day is also about remembering our nation's fallen soldiers who died in service to our country. This means that many Americans also visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who gave their lives for the United States.
Many U.S. National Parks will also take part in Memorial Day events, including honoring soldiers from wars throughout history, as well as offering opportunities to learn more about those wars.
Here are just a few parks where you can learn more about U.S. history and honor the soldiers who were part of it.
Location: Gettysburg, Pa.
One of the bloodiest battles ever fought during America's Civil War happened on this Pennsylvania battlefield. However, that battle was a turning point in that war and served as inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.
Today, that battlefield is a National Park that features guided tours where visitors can learn all about that fateful event that defined history. The park also has hiking and bicycle trails, as well as campgrounds for those who want to spend the night.
Visitors to Gettysburg can also see the Soldiers' National Cemetery, the final resting place of many Union soldiers from that battle.
Location: New Orleans, La.
A visit to Jean Lafitte National Park allows guests to walk in the same footsteps as men who fought at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, the final battle in the War of 1812. There, Major General Andrew Jackson led troops that prevented the British from seizing the city of New Orleans. That eventually led to the Treaty of Ghent, which resulted in the retreat of British soldiers from the city.
This park also includes the Chalmette National Cemetery, which was originally established in 1864 for Louisiana Union soldiers who died during the Civil War. Now, it also holds graves for veterans of the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War.
Location: Washington, D.C.
No trip to Washington, D.C. is complete without a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which includes a Memorial Wall that has more than 58,000 names engraved upon its surface: all the veterans of the Vietnam War.
The Memorial is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so any time is good to visit, although Memorial Day may seem most fitting.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
One of history's most shocking and memorable moments happened with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II. Today, the Harbor hosts the Pacific National Monument, where visitors can learn more about the events that led the United States to join World War II, as well as learn more about that war itself.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center features exhibits, galleries and memorials to the events that happened there in World War II, and offers access to other historical sites such as the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, also there, honors the 1,177 men who died during the attack on that ship. Because the memorial sits around the remains of the sunken ship, it is also the tomb for the 900 servicemen trapped in the ship's hull.