Washington DC and the surrounding area contain a treasure trove of patriotic landmarks. With a wealth of things to see and do here, it is imperative that you carefully plan out your itinerary in order to hit all of the highlights.

Arlington National Cemetery

One of the most impressive, patriotic places to see is just across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA. Arlington National Cemetery is a breathtaking sight to behold with rows upon rows of white tombstones marking the lost lives of men and women who courageously served our country. Open 365 days a year, visiting hours are between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. April-September and October-March. Visitors won’t want to miss the Eternal Flame at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite which was lit at the President’s funeral at the request of his wife, Jacqueline. Kennedy is one of just two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

A soldier guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Located in Constitution Gardens near the National Mall, stands the Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe Vietnam War was a conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam and its allies. Spanning two decades, the war cost the lives of 3 million people, including 58,000 American soldiers. The Memorial is a 247-foot-long structure composed of granite panels which lists the names of the servicemen and women who died during the Vietnam conflict. Interestingly, the memorial was designed by Maya Ying Lin, an undergraduate of Yale University who won a competition held to design the structure. Many visitors will trace the inscriptions on the wall with pencil and paper to take home as a momento from their visit.

The Washington Monument

Nothing gets more patriotic than leading the charge for American Independence, which is exactly what the first U.S. President, George Washington did. The Washington Monument was built to commemorate all that Washington contributed to the founding of this country. Construction on the 500’ tall Egyptian obelisk began in 1848 and was finally completed in 1884. Today, visitors may purchase a ticket and ride the elevator to the monument’s lofty observation tower.

The World War II Memorial is open 24/7, a constant reminder to visitors of the sacrifices made for freedom.

The World War II Memorial

Though the world thought that World War I would be the “war to end all wars”, it was just a bloody precursor to an even more costly and devastating war that would come two decades later. During World War II, 60 million people died, making it the deadliest conflict in history. Deaths were heaviest in Europe, where most of the combat took place, but the United States lost approximately 418,500 civilians and military personnel. The World War II Memorial was opened in 2004 to commemorate those who served and died in the War, as well as those who supported the American war effort stateside. The memorial is open to visitors 24 hours a day.

In addition to memorials and monuments to put into your itinerary, there are other sites that are “must see.” This includes the National Archives, Smithsonian Institute, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Mint Headquarters, the White House and the FBI Building. Most of these places require advanced reservations for those not part of a touring group, so make sure to plan ahead.

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