My eight year-old son has been studying WWII as his class topic. He’s turned into quite the young military history student. The most recent school trip saw him and his friends travelling to an outdoor learning centre, dressed as evacuees. The centre was just outside London, and had a genuine WWII bunker, which they all traipsed into, after the teachers played an air-raid siren. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a parent helper on the trip. The experience of being crowded into the dark, dusty space clearly had an impact on the youngsters.
My son’s school projects prompted me to put together a wish-list of places I’d like to visit with my children some day. Although I don’t think it’s a good idea to confront children with the full horrors of war, it’s never too soon to help them learn about the past. Top of the list is London’s Imperial War Museum. I’m planning on taking my fledgling military history students there this weekend. Here are five more.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Located in Warsaw, Poland, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument that was built after World War I. It was created to commemorate the soldiers of Poland who died during the country’s many conflicts. Most of the soldiers remain unnamed. The memorial is also all that remains of a palace that was destroyed during World War II.
The people of France gave this cemetery, in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, to the United States. Its ten thousand crosses memorialise the American soldiers who died fighting the Nazi powers in World War II. It’s a moving tribute from one ally to another.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial
Located in Germany, near the city of Munich, the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial is a memorial and museum. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps built in Germany, and it informed the design of most other concentration camps. The people of Germany have gone to great lengths to preserve even the most unpleasant parts of their history. Like someone working to gain a military history degree, they are trying to understand the past, to prevent such atrocities from happening again.
In the Picardy region of France, one of the largest battles of World War I was fought. This occurred near the Somme River, and is known as one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. The conflict began on 1 July 2016, and ended in November of the same year. The site has what is called a Circuit of Remembrance that stretches for forty miles and includes battle sites, memorials, and several museums. The Somme Battlefields are an important part of the narrative of World War I. Over one million soldiers, French, German, and British, died here. The Somme was the first major action of the British in the war.
Antietam National Battlefield
Students of military history can find several sites dating back to the American Civil War. One of these is the Battlefield at Antietam. Located in the state of Maryland, this site was the place where the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War took place. Visitors can explore Antietem’s hiking trails, and an 8.5 mile driving tour of the battlefield.
Do you have a budding military history student in your family? Where would you take them?
This is a collaborative post. All images are from Pixabay.