Daily Vacationer is always looking for new things to do in the Greater Philadelphia area, so whenever we come across a brochure display, we usually go a little nuts. During one of our frenzies, we picked up a brochure for a FREE self-guided tour put together by the Independence Seaport Museum, highlighting Philadelphia's Delaware Waterfront memorials.
The Honor, Sacrifice, and Freedom Tour takes visitors through centuries of America's heroes, heroines, and pioneers. You begin at the country's beginnings at Christ Church reflecting on the determination of the founding fathers (and by the way, it's free to go inside, so go take a peek). Then travel down Market Street to where Chief Tamanend is honored as the leader of the Lenni-Lenape who promoted peace between his clans and William Penn's settlers.
The tour continues, reminding us of the European immigrants who came to America looking for a better life. Bravely leaving their homes and heading across the sea, the haunting Irish Memorial and hopeful National Scottish Immigrants' Memorial sculptures give visitors an idea of how different each immigrant story is. And right near the Philadelphia docks where these newcomers would have landed is a plaque for the famous Tun Tavern, the birthplace of the United States Marine Corp.
From that point, the tour jumps into reflecting on more current struggles and conflicts, beginning with the Philadelphia Beirut Memorial which bears the inscription: "If you forget my death then I died in vain", remembering the Marines who lost their lives in 1983 during a peace-keeping mission. Then, right near each other, the Korean War Memorial and the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial honor those from Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley who fought and died during those wars. The memorials are fantastically interesting from a historical point of view and heartbreakingly moving from a human point of view. Give yourself some time here.
The tour continues its solemn tone with the Purple Heart Memorial dedicated to the Pennsylvania troops wounded during all of our nation's wars. Then you find yourself headed directly to the waterfront to the WWII Submariners Memorial - The Becuna, remembering the Navy officers and men who went down with the 52 lost submarines during that war. The Becuna and the next stop on the tour, the Warship Olympia, are both a part of the Independence Seaport Museum and can be toured for a discounted pass through the Museum. The Warship Olympia is the world's oldest floating steel warship and the last naval ship from the Spanish-American war.
The Christopher Columbus Monument is a hard-to-miss towering obelisk honoring the famous explorer and all the Italian immigrants who would follow. To see the next stop on the tour, visitors need to take a look across the Delaware River to the USS Battleship New Jersey, the nation's largest and most decorated battleship of all time. (We recommend actually going over the river and experiencing the Battleship NJ at some point as well.) The tour comes to an end at the Jane Johnson State Marker. Jane Johnson escaped to freedom in 1855 and her case became the focus for precedent-setting legal cases in the 19th century.
The tour comes to an end right outside of the entrance to the Independence Seaport Museum, making it easy to purchase discounted passes to go back and explore the Becuna and the Warship Oympia. You may also just want to go inside and thank the Museum for putting together such a wonderful and thought-provoking tour. The monuments and memorials are open to the public year-round, making this self-guided tour FREE and convenient. All the locations are stroller and wheelchair accessible to view, and the whole tour is an easy walking distance. Group tours with a guide can also be arranged though the Independence Seaport Museum for $15 per adult and $10 for students, seniors, military, and veterans.
Each Honor, Sacrifice, and Freedom Tour brochure comes with a map, a description of each location, and ideas for other memorials to visit throughout Philadelphia. You can pick up a brochure at any of the Philadelphia Visitor Centers or from the Independence Seaport Museum. Reminding us that freedom comes with sacrifice and heroes can be anyone, the tour encourages visitors to reflect, honor, and never forget.
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