All over the country, there is an abundance of historical monuments that remind us of the turbulent past of the United States. Some of them are architectural wonders, others are simple and almost unknown, yet all of them have a great importance for the American heritage. Historical monuments are much more than touristic attractions, though they attract a countless number of people who come to take a picture on these famous sites. Depending on where you live or which part of the American history is your favorite, here are the most famous historical monuments in the US that every American should be proud of.
The granddaddy of presidential memorials—a bit unique in that it’s open 24 hours a day—sits in West Potomac Park, bookending the National Mall on its west side. It was dedicated in 1922, at a time when the country was united geographically, and you’ll see Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address inscribed in the memorial’s south chamber.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
This massive, 1,275-acre, carved granite sculpture is one of the country’s most iconic scenes—and not just for its role in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Designed and sculpted by a father-son team of Danish-American artists, the carving of the mountain started in 1925 and halted in 1941. Originally it was meant to show off its four subjects from head to waist; insufficient funding was cut off after the heads were completed.
Statue of Liberty, New York
The colossal Statue of Liberty is a gift from France to the US to commemorate the declaration of American independence. It was designed by the French sculptor Frederic Augustine Bartholdi. It represents the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas. The statue is made out of copper and that’s why it looks green due to oxidation. There are 354 steps to reach the crown of the statue that has 25 windows that provide panoramic views of the surrounding areas.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the service men and women who fought in the Vietnam War. The wall found at the memorial chronologically lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives during the Vietnam Conflict.
Arlington National Cemetery
Directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial is this massive resting place for casualties, dating as far back as the Civil War. The cemetery spans more than 600 acres and is home to more than 400,000 graves, in part thanks to a $35 million expansion implemented in 2007
Liberty Bell Center
Many folks recognize the Liberty Bell—and its famous crack—as an iconic symbol of American independence. But what’s also remarkable is its home at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Center, next to the former Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was dedicated on July 27, 1995. The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. From June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 54,246 Americans died in support of their country. Of these, 8,200 were listed as missing in action, or lost or buried at sea at the Honolulu Memorial, at the time of the Korean War Courts of the Missing dedication in 1966. In addition 103,284 were wounded during the conflict. As an integral part of the memorial, the Korean War Honor Roll was established, honoring those U.S. military personnel who died worldwide during the war.
During the War of 1812, Baltimore ended up being the site of several battles and lookout points, thanks to its proximity to Washington, D.C. (which had been named the nation’s capital only 20-odd years earlier). This stronghold in the city’s southeastern corner played a significant role during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814: Not only did American forces hold off a British invasion of the harbor, but it also served as the inspiration for “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” a poem written by Francis Scott Key that was later adapted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
A walk along the Freedom Trail is especially appropriate over the 4th of July weekend: Each of the 16 historic sites that make up the trail has some significant connection to the Revolutionary War. Stops include Fanueil Hall (pictured), where protestors planned acts of rebellion against the British army before the war, and Granary Burying Ground, a cemetery that’s the final resting place of patriots like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. Although guided tours are one way to experience the trail, you can also wander to the different sites at your own pace.
Gettysburg National Military Park
This is where Lincoln’s famous speech went down in November of 1863, four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, which had been fought that July. Now, 150 years later, Gettysburg National Military Park has prepared a formal ceremony to commemorate the landmark anniversary. Events take place June 30.
The Capitol Building
The United States Capitol Building is located in Washington, D.C., at the eastern end of the National Mall on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River, commanding a westward view across the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial 2.2 miles away.
At the U.S. Capitol the Senate and the House of Representatives come together to discuss, debate and deliberate national policy; develop consensus; and craft the country’s laws. As the nation has grown so has the U.S. Capitol: today it covers well over 1.5 million square feet, has over 600 rooms, and miles of corridors. It is crowned by a magnificent white dome that overlooks the city of Washington and has become a widely recognized icon of the American people and government. The U.S. Capitol’s design was selected by President George Washington in 1793 and construction began shortly thereafter.
The U.S. Capitol is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for over two centuries. Begun in 1793, the U.S. Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government.