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Cheapflights.com

May 20, 2014 14:43 ET

This Memorial Day, Cheapflights.com Pays Respect to War Heroes Worldwide

Remembers the Fallen -- Near and Far -- With Top 10 Historic Battlefields

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - May 20, 2014) - This year, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, the 150th of the U.S. Civil War and the 70th of the D-Day invasion of World War II, it is an important time to honor the soldiers who fought and died for their countries and their causes. To keep the memory alive, many battlefields pay ongoing tribute to the history that unfolded on their very land. In remembrance this Memorial Day, the travel experts at Cheapflights.com have compiled a list of Top 10 Historic Battlefields, locations where the fighting and those who fought are honored every day.

Below are four battlefields on U.S. and Canadian soil where you can step back in time and remember the soldiers and sacrifices that shaped history:

  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States - Often thought of as the turning point in the Civil War, the three-day battle (July 1 -3, 1863) in Gettysburg was the bloodiest in the war with more than 51,000 injured, killed, captured or missing. This was the Confederate Army's second attempt to invade the North and the initial day of fighting saw the Yankees fall back. After another day of extremely intense (and deadly) fighting with 100,000 troops engaged, the third day proved decisive. The Confederates sent 12,000 men right at the Union line in what is known as Pickett's Charge. The Union troops repelled the offensive and the Rebels retreated back to Virginia. Four months later, at the dedication of the cemetery, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, his short but powerful tribute to the fallen soldiers and call for a "new birth of freedom." Gettysburg has embraced its place in history with much of the area where this massive conflict unfurled preserved as a national park. Guided tours, living history classes and almost 1,400 statues, sculptures and markers tell the story of the battle and the era. However, the most vibrant way to step back into the moment is the annual battle reenactment, scheduled this year for July 4-6.

  • Old Fort Erie, Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada - In the war of 1812, the U.S. and Great Britain faced off on land and at sea. The border between the U.S. and Canada, at the time a British colony, became a front in the war, and Fort Erie and its surroundings were at the center of the action. Troops from this fort joined in the effort to thwart a U.S. invasion at the Battle of Frenchmen's Creek in 1812, but things really heated up starting in 1813 when the Americans and British took turns occupying Fort Erie. By July of 1814, it was in American hands and the U.S. army used it as a base to engage the British in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, two fierce clashes that proved the growing strength of the U.S. military. After the grueling battles, the Americans withdrew to Fort Erie. In mid-August, the British attacked but were repelled, losing 1,000 men in the process. A siege of the fort lasted more than a month before the U.S. troops drove the British back. By the time the Americans left in November of 1814, Fort Erie was the bloodiest battlefield on Canadian soil (and remains so today). In 1939, a rebuilt Old Fort Erie was opened to the public. By the late 1960s, tour guides in uniforms from both sides began offering tours. Visitors can see soldiers' barracks, powder magazines and the fort's myriad fortifications as well as musket demonstrations. Each summer, they can also witness a reenactment of the siege. This year's event, Aug. 9 and 10, will be the 200th anniversary celebration.

  • Guam - This island in Marianas was a U.S. territory attacked by the Japanese just hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that pulled America into World War II. The small U.S. Navy and Marine presence was overtaken in a couple of days, marking a short First Battle of Guam. Guam remained under Japanese control for two-and-a-half years. By that point, Japan was losing ground in the Pacific and the U.S. set its sights on regaining Guam as a strategic point in air and naval support for future operations. In the Second Battle of Guam, the U.S. navigated the reefs around the island to land troops on beaches on two sides of an airfield. The Japanese fought to the death in the jungles of the island until the U.S. declared the island secure. Guam remains a U.S. territory as do all of the Mariana Islands. The U.S. has created the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, which consists of seven sites around the island where the fighting raged. Strongholds, trenches, weapons and more still stand as glimpses into the warfare on the island and the whole of the South Pacific Theater. Look for memorials and tributes as well, including the Memorial Wall with the names of 16,142 native Chamorro and Americans who were killed or wounded during the war, the Liberator's Memorial erected on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Guam and the tribute to the 25 Marine War Dogs who gave their lives in the battle to take the island.

  • Big Hole Battlefield, Montana, United States - In August of 1877, the Nez Perce Indians were trying to escape to Canada to avoid being confined to a reservation. They were also fleeing feared retribution from an attack on settlers from a small band of warriors who were fighting back over the loss of their homeland. Eight-hundred Nez Perce were encamped at Big Hole when the U.S. Cavalry and Bitterroot Volunteer forces launched a pre-dawn attack. The Nez Perce were able to stand their ground and back their foes into a corner, allowing many of the tribe, especially women and children to escape. When the day-and-half battle was over, there were an estimated 60 to 90 dead Nez Perce while the Calvary and Volunteers had lost 31 men with another 40 wounded. This was the most violent of clashes in the five-month Nez Perce War, which ended when Chief Joseph surrendered, just 40 miles from the Canadian border. The battlefield was first named a national monument in 1910 and became Big Hole National Battlefield in 1963. Now it's part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, a series of 38 sites across five states in the Northwest that tells the story of this large Native American tribe. The Big Hole National Battlefield is managed by the National Park Service and has a visitor center that sets the stage with exhibits and a background movie. Self-guided tours as well as ranger-led walks take you through the battle. Highlights include memorials to the dead from both sides and the Nez Perce Camp. An annual commemoration, staged by the Nez Perce, happens every August.

Our list of storied battlefields also includes Flanders Field, Belgium; Normandy, France; Gallipoli, Turkey; Battle of Hastings, Battle, England; Culloden, Scotland; and Dolomites, Italy. To read about these and view Cheapflights.com's complete list of Top 10 Historic Battlefields, visit www.cheapflights.com/news/top-10-historic-battlefields.

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