Get Off the Beaten Path for Patriotism
It’s funny what you learn when you are away from your homeland. I was recently in the Netherlands and talking to the locals when I learned something interesting about my own people. Americans are pretty much the most patriotic country in the world. We fly the U.S. flag all year long, and our school children start their day with the pledge to the Stars and Stripes. We fight for our freedom, and the freedom of others, when many countries don’t even have armies. We come together during Memorial Day, Flag Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Constitution Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day with our patriotism in full throttle.
As freelance writers of the U.S., why not incorporate patriotism into your writing as well? The next time you want to warm the blood in your veins and breathe anew creatively, check out these off-the-beaten-path places where the American spirit was born.
The Gateway Arch. St. Louis, Missouri
Most travelers driving from the east coast to the west have taken Interstate 70 past the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. But did you know that the Arch has a double whammy of a patriotic past? First of all, the arch is symbolic of the Westward Expansion, in which Thomas Jefferson played a major part. As a result, the Gateway Arch, the world’s largest arch, is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
But that is only one part of this patriotic puzzle.
The other part of the memorial is the Old Courthouse. This courthouse is where Dred Scott sued for his freedom in 1847. As one of the most important court cases ever tried in the U.S., the Dred Scott case accelerated the beginning of the Civil War. So, the next time you are cruising through St. Louis, do more than gawk at the Arch through your car window. Pull over and explore the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to learn about one of the first and most publicized fights for freedom on U.S. soil.
Lewis and Clark Trail
The Lewis and Clark Trail should be named the Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and York Trail. While everyone knows of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark, as well as of Sacagawea, York is just emerging in his significance. York was a slave who traveled, hunted, and traded along with the Corps of Discovery. Survival needs required those on the trail to treat York and Sacagawea with much more respect than either would have received in an American community at that time.
In fact, it is now recorded that when the group voted on where they would stay for the winter of 1805 and 1806, York and Sacagawea were given voting rights, making the two the first slave and woman to vote in U.S. history. While Clark would later refuse to grant York his freedom and equal reward in relation to their return, author Washington Irving of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” fame granted York his freedom in 1832.
Chances are, you either live in one of the states along the Lewis and Clark Trail, or you can travel to or through one or more states in a short road trip. The trail extends through 11 states:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Consider taking a road trip that follows the trail for your next vacation.
Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Georgia
Gutzon Borglum, the famous sculptor best known for Mount Rushmore, got his monumental start at Stone Mountain in 1916. After a heated argument Borglum publicized with the press, he was fired, but not until he had carved Robert E. Lee into the face of Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. However, the Stone Mountain carvings weren’t complete until 1972, at which time Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis and their horses were added to the granite image.
The Civil War transformed the Eastern U.S. into one heck of a bloody battleground. Whether you would have been on the side of the Union or the Confederates, at Stone Mountain Park you can get a taste of American history in one of the hot spots of the war. During the summer months, reenactments take place with soldiers of both sides camping out on the park grounds, allowing you a glimpse into the world of the Civil War. Cabins and facilities have been reconstructed to the look and feel prior to the Reconstruction. Patriotic things to do at Stone Mountain include the following:
- Confederate Hall Historical and Environmental Education Center
- Stone Mountain hiking trails including Cherokee, Nature Garden and Songbird Habitat
- The Antebellum Plantations and Farmyard
- Crossroads’ 1872 town featuring old time candy making and glass blowing demonstrations
- The Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad
The Stone Mountain Laser Show Spectacular is hosted nightly over the face of the Confederate leaders. Make sure to hike or take the aerial tram to the top of Stone Mountain for a breathtaking view of the Hot-lanta skyline.
Miranda B is a feather-footed traveler who has explored each of these patriotic places, allowing her to give you the full scoop from a fellow freelance writer.