Honor the stories of women in the military at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. (Photo: Alamy)
Brunch is all well and good (can you even call it Mother’s Day if no brunch is involved?), but perhaps you’d like to put a little extra substance in the celebration this year by visiting one of the nation’s sites honoring her — or your — foremothers in fortitude, adventure and courage.
Here are five sites filled with stories of women you’ll never forget.
Women in Military Service for America Memorial — Alexandria, Virginia
This memorial was dedicated in October 1997, more than 200 years after Margaret Corbin picked up her fallen husband’s gun and fought on in the Revolutionary War, becoming the first woman to receive a pension from the government for military service.
By 1990 more than 40,000 women had served in noncombat positions — although even then women suffered injuries, were taken prisoner and made the ultimate sacrifice. This historical site and (still developing) museum honors and tells the stories of women of the military.
The Women’s Rights National Historic Park — Seneca Falls, New York
Here is where women’s suffrage was born. Visit the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and of Mary Ann M’Clintock, where she and others drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, the first women’s rights statement, and the remains of the Wesleyan Chapel where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held. An interpretive center and knowledgeable park rangers add insight.
Seneca Falls also is home to the National Women’s Hall of Fame; just photos and bios of inductees, but an education in American women’s accomplishments. Also nearby, in the town of Auburn, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park became part of the National Park Service in 2017. Visit what was the Tubman Home for the Aged and her grave. (A larger NPS site, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park also opened in 2017, in Maryland.)
Bonus: All of this is in the glorious Finger Lakes area of New York State, one of the nation’s premier wine regions.
Susan B. Anthony Museum & House — Rochester, New York
The horse chestnut outside the house/museum is the last living witness to Susan B. Anthony’s singularly purposed life. Her sister Mary, a teacher, owned the house and supported her suffragette sister in all ways.
In 1872 Susan was arrested in the froufrou parlor for illegally casting a vote, though her fine was just $100 and court costs, which she never paid. She also entertained friends such as Frederick Douglass here. Anthony died in 1906 at the age of 86; women got the vote 14 years later.
Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The first licensed female pilot was Harriet Quimby, who got her license in 1911 but died in 1912 when she fell from her plane over Boston Harbor. Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot, met a similar fate in 1926. (Seat belts became standard equipment in the ’30s.)
Schedule plenty of time here. This museum is small but packed with stories and artifacts from these and other intrepid female fliers, up to today.
First Ladies National Historic Site — Canton, Ohio
You’ll first take a (required) gossipy tour of the fussy Victorian home of Ida Saxton McKinley, wife of the 25th president, William, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.
The tour ends in a third-floor ballroom lined with portraits and brief, absorbing biographies of all of the nation’s first ladies. A nearby research center includes changing exhibits and an excellent gift shop for all things first-lady-ish.