Travel professionals to give back on 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, President Obama has declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance to honor the men and women who lost their lives on that horrible day. As a result of this declaration, thousands of Americans are expected to take part in numerous service projects throughout the 50 States. One of those projects will be spearheaded by a group called Tourism Cares, who will be gathering volunteers for a revitalization effort in Valley Forge National Park.

Tourism Cares is a non-profit organization made up of members from the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry who are dedicated to preserving the travel experience for future generations. On Friday, September 9th, the group will host more than 200 volunteers who will be working throughout the 3600-acre Valley Forge to paint, clean, weed, and clear out a variety of spaces in the park. Their efforts will not only serve as a great opportunity to observe the National Day of Service and Remembrance a few days early, but also help preserve this important historical site for future visitors as well.

For more information on this Tourism Cares Volunteer Day, and to find out how you can get involved, click here. If you’re interested in discovering a service opportunity near you, you’ll find a list by clicking here.

Spend Independence Day in a national park

The Fourth of July holiday has always been a popular one in the U.S. This coming weekend, millions of people across the country will gather with friends and family to celebrate the day our country won its independence with food, music, and fireworks. It is a tradition like no other, and one that is made all the better when combined with another great American tradition – the national parks.

With the three-day holiday weekend nearly upon us, the National Park Service has a number of activities planned across the entire park system. For instance, Valley Forge National Park will play host to the annual community picnic, which features plenty of hamburgers and hotdogs, arts and crafts for the kids, Revolutionary War reenactors, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson himself. Festivities get underway at 11 AM and run throughout the afternoon.

Similarly, Adams National Historical Park in Massachusetts has a full schedule of events planned for July 4th as well. Things will get underway at 1 PM with storyteller William Hogeland sharing the tale of how the Declaration of Independence was drafted and eventually signed. Later in the afternoon, visitors will have the opportunity to join the second Continental Congress itself and take part in the drafting of that document themselves. Finally, the evening will wrap up with a dramatic re-telling of the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. A friendship that not only withstood the test of time, but would also help forge a nation.Visitors to Mt. Rushmore will have two days to take in that park’s annual celebration, which is always amongst the best in the entire park system. Starting on Sunday, July 3rd and running through the 4th, there will be a variety of live music, and presidential reenactors wandering the park. On Sunday evening the U.S. Air Force will also conduct several dramatic flyovers, including a B-1 bomber. Other events include a flag folding ceremony, a salute to veterans, a military swearing in ceremony, and more.

Those looking for the ultimate in fireworks displays, should plan on dropping by the National Mall in Washington DC. Those that beat the rush, and get there early in the day, can claim one of the better viewing spots near the reflecting pool, and where the fireworks are launched on the evening of the 4th. Starting just after 9 PM, the night sky will explode in spectacular colors, illuminating the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, as well as the Capitol Building itself. It is truly a patriotic sight to behold.

There are, of course, plenty of other parks that are holding their own celebrations as well. Checkout the National Park Service website for more details on what is happening in your area, and start making plans to celebrate Independence Day 2011 in your favorite national park.

[Photo credit: UpstateNYer via WikiMedia Commons]

National parks free for Veterans Day

The National Park Service will host its final fee free day for 2010 this Thursday, November 11th, in honor of Veterans Day, allowing travelers to experience more than 100 parks that generally charge admission at no cost. For a complete list of those parks, grouped by state, click here.

A number of the parks will host special ceremonies or commemorative events to honor America’s veterans, including Valley Forge, the birthplace of America’s army, which will hold a moment of silence and a wreath laying-ceremony at 11AM near the National Memorial Arch. There will also be living history interpreters near the Muhlenberg Brigade huts throughout the day who will share insights and thoughts on the history of the place. Meanwhile, visitors to Morristown Historical National Park, located in New Jersey, can enjoy a new trail that is 27 miles in length and wanders through George Washington’s historic army encampment.

The Park Service’s fee free days have been quite a hit with travelers over the past couple of years, drawing visitors in by the thousands, and helping to set new attendance records across the system. It seems they’re planning on continuing the practice in 2011 as well, as they have already announced that entry to the parks will be free from April 16-24 to celebrate National Parks Week, and again on September 24 for Public Lands Day and November 11 for Veterans Day. More dates are expected to be announced soon.

Additionally, a number of the parks’ partners will also be offering special discounts, prizes, and other deals to visitors on Veterans Day. Click here to view a sampling of those special offers.

[Photo credit: National Park Service]

The national parks celebrate July 4th

Looking for things to do today to help celebrate the fourth of July? Then look no further than the U.S. National Parks, many of which are hosting special events to celebrate Independence Day.

For example, Mt. Rushmore has a full schedule of activities set for the day that includes folk dancing, autographs from historical figures, music, and informational talks given by the rangers. In the evening, there will be a lighting ceremony, a film and a patriotic rendition of the national anthem. All of these events will take place in the shadow of one of the best known monuments in the world, in which four former Presidents watch over the region. (Cost: Free!)

Visitors to Morristown National Historic Park, located in New Jersey, can enjoy a live reading of the Declaration of Independence by a park ranger in a traditional historical costume. Prior to the reading, there will be stories, jokes, and riddles delivered by the staff, and an inspection of the Revolutionary era troops as well. After the reading there will be live music provided by historical balladeer Linda Russell too. (Cost: Free!)

Over in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, there will be a traditional 1860’s era celebration, with a picnic, band concerts, and patriotic speeches in honor of the founding fathers. There will also be a display of the “Wonders of the World” circa 1860 as well, and visitors can compete in the militia games in such events as tug-of-war and a water bucket brigade. (Cost: $6/car or $4/person on foot or bike)

The 4th of July is celebrated in grand style in the Colorado National Monument where they raise the flag 450 feet above the canyon floor to the top of Independence Monument, the tallest free standing rock formation in the park. That formation will be scaled by 30 rock climbers who will deliver “Old Glory” to its resting place for the day. There will also be guided walks through the park and inspirational stories told as well. (Cost: Free!)

Valley Forge National Park will have an Independence Day celebration of its own with living history demonstrations that include artillery from the Revolutionary War. Vendors will be selling hamburgers and hotdogs, and there will be plenty of games and crafts for the kids to enjoy as well. (Cost: Free!)

This is just a taste of some of the events going on in the National Parks today. Check out to see what your favorite park has planned. Chances are, you’ll be able to celebrate the day with some fun activities.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

[Photo credit:]