“Does Virginia have a lot of history?” should never be a question. Of course Virginia is loaded with history, and here are a few events for you to experience this year if you’re eager for a fresh look or a different vantage point.
It’s not every day that a 400th wedding anniversary is celebrated, so you might want to mark this one down. Visit Historic Jamestowne the weekend of April 4-6, 2014 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe with a reenactment of the ceremony. Stand at the original church site, uncovered in 2010 by archaeologists, inside James Fort.
Part of the fun is the new exhibit, “The World of Pocahontas,” at the Voorhees Archaearium, which reveals new details about the material world of Virginia’s native people and their adaptation and social interaction with the English colonists.
Allied Forces invaded Normandy in the largest land, sea and air operation in history on June 6, 1944. The D-Day Memorial pays tribute to those fallen during that invasion, but the city of Bedford is home to the Memorial because its loss per capita was the highest in America. During the June weekend events, the new sculpture, “Homage,” will be dedicated, and you will have the chance to meet and thank veterans.
2014 marks 60 years since the decision was handed down by the United States Supreme Court for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), a case that desegregated schools and had a 16-year-old Farmville, Virginia girl at its roots.
Visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum to learn how a leaky, cold, overcrowded Robert Russa Moton High School pushed Barbara Johns and her peers to fight for equality in education (75% of the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education were students in the 1951 Moton Student Strike). The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and is called the student birthplace of America’s Civil Rights Movement.
How about some non-traditional history excursions?
- The Mill Mountain Star in Roanoke, Virginia turns 65 this year. It’s the reason Roanoke is often called the “Star City of the South,” as its six-story stature and 2,000 feet of red, white and blue neon tubing illuminate Mill Mountain at night.
- Fifty years ago on January 29, 1964 one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses was designated a National Historic Landmark – Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach. Celebrate this 1792 octagonal icon authorized by George Washington.
- If you’ve ever driven the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, you’ve experienced “one of seven engineering wonders of the world.” The Bridge-Tunnel opened in April 1964 and spans 18 miles across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to connect Norfolk with Cape Charles, Virginia. The stretch will take you through two mile-long tunnels and over two high bridges, not to mention across four man-made islands. Stop at one of them to enjoy the view and a bite to eat at Chesapeake Grill.
Need more Virginia history? Right this way to our Historic Sites.
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© Casey for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2014