ftpickensAs a former high school English teacher, I had no problem discussing difficult topics and themes that went with novels like Fahrenheit 451 or 1984.  I could teach stories about war and loss in a sensitive way so that my students felt comfortable discussing the novels together but for some reason I have a hard time addressing some of these topics with my own children.

I know this is silly.  I should feel most comfortable addressing these issues with my own children.  I am sure some of it comes from wanting to shield my young children from these uncomfortable issues for as long as I can.  Books and movies help with these discussions but I have found that some of our best conversations happen during our travels.  Our travels give our kids real world experiences that put things into perspective. 

This week, in the United States, we will be honoring veterans and their service to this country.  I will take this time to visit a memorial, museum or fort to open the door to a dialogue about how Veteran’s Day is not just another day off of school.

Memorials, Forts and Museums in the South to Visit with Your Family


USS Battleship Alabama (Mobile, Alabama) – Take a self-guided tour of the battleship, see aircraft and tour a submarine.  The thing that struck my kids the most was how small the bunk areas were in the battleship.  They couldn’t believe that several people slept in such a tiny ship. 

Ft. Pickens (Pensacola, Florida) – The remains of this pre-Civil War fort stand sheltering the Pensacola Bay.  Ft. Pickens is located on the Gulf Island National Seashore so when you are finished visiting the fort and learning about its famous prisoner, you can take the kids for a walk on the beach where they can collect shells and look for dolphins or other sea life.

The National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA) – Learn more about World War II with a visit to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.  See aircraft, memorabilia, photographs and read personal accounts from people who served.

Air Force Armament Museum (Fort Walton Beach, Florida) – Explore the hands-on interactive exhibits to learn more about the bombs, missiles and aircraft that have previously and are currently being used by the Air Force.

Fort Sumter National Monument (Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina) – Take a ranger led tour or a self-guided tour of the area.   

These are just a few memorials, forts and museums to visit in the south with your family.  Which ones have you visited?