Remembering the Cost of Freedom

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Veteran’s Memorial Garden (3200 Veteran’s Memorial Drive) – located within Antelope Park in Lincoln (just off of 30th & “A” Street)
Website/Phone http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/parks/parksfacilities/publicgardens/ ;402-441-7847
Open hours & length of time to allow Daylight hours; to study all of the monuments could take an hour; we spent about 20 minutes just briefly walking by and acknowledging them.
What to Bring Walking shoes; a stroller is suggested if bringing young children.
What to Know Follow the paths to see 21 military monuments and a star garden
Museum Manners While this is not a graveyard, it is a place to remember the sacrifice of soldiers.  Walking around in a respectful manner is highly recommended.
Recommended Ages 0+ if in a stroller; walking age depends on the child – can just go to parts
Cost Everything for the soldiers and their families!  Free to walk around & honor.

On July 4th,  my 10 year old son and I went on a bike ride.  This was definitely a meaningful independence day event for me, as I rarely get to go biking without pulling a trailer carrying a child (or two!)  We really enjoyed the beautiful morning weather and the fact that we did not have a destination in mind.

playground

We ended up at one of my favorite Lincoln parks for kids – Antelope Park.  That is, I like taking my kids there if there is someone else to help me with watching them.  (The playground equipment is extensive and spread out – you can easily lose track of your kids if there is a lot of children playing!)

After we rode past the equipment, I realized that we were at the perfect destination for a day celebrating freedom.  I had forgotten about the Veteran’s Memorial Garden that is located just south of the playground.  We decided to walk our bikes around and look at all of the various monuments.

Vet Memorial gate

While I had walked my kids through the area several years ago, I had definitely forgotten just how much ground the memorial area covers.  They have created a beautiful area that causes one to reflect and remember while celebrating freedom.

The star-shaped garden in the center.

Star garden

The monuments memorialize soldiers from each of the wars (Civil War through present day).  Remembrance bricks have been engraved with the names of the many soldiers who served our country.  In addition, the various military branches also have displays of honor around the park.

After having learned about the bravery of the Tuskegee airmen last year, this was one of my favorite monuments.

black soldier monument

While it is hard to tell based on this picture, the World War Two display had engravings of the maps of both the European and Pacific theaters.  A bittersweet celebration of military victory which unfortunately came at the cost of many lives.

WWII monument

Since we briskly studied the last 4 centuries of world history last year, seeing all of the monuments was even more meaningful since we knew some of the stories behind the conflicts.  I hope to take all of my children there in the coming months, as I think they are now old enough to appreciate some of the significance.

P.S. This is actually a perfect introductory “field trip” since the monuments are located in a park setting.  My youngest is four now and would handle this fairly well.  If I was bringing in younger kids, this is how I would direct our time.

Play on the playground for 20-30 minutes.

Tell the kids that we are going for a short walk.

Just before entering the memorial, I would tell the children that we were going to look at some special monuments and pictures honoring people who have fought for our country.

I would walk them around some of the memorials, noticing the pictures on the stones and possibly reading a few names. (Walking is a way to practice showing respect and honor). 

I would probably also use a small bit of bribery – promising a snack if the children acted appropriately while looking at the displays. 

I would only spend 15-20 minutes looking, then take them back to play.  I would hand out the snacks at the playground.

Obviously using a stroller or wagon can also work in “containing” children while teaching them about veterans.  I know that I want my children to learn early on that one of the reasons that this nation has been great is because of those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

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Categories: Metro, Military and Memorials | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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