6 Ways to Honor Veterans and the Great Outdoors this Nov. 11


I grew up in a military family as passionate about recycling and nature as it was about patriotism and public service. I guess it’s no surprise these twin passions drive my favorite Veterans Day activities: thanking the veterans in my life and taking some time to Get Outside. This November, I’d like to share some of the opportunities available in Washington State.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your Veterans Day and Great Outdoors stories on Twitter or our Facebook site!

1. Spend time with a veteran in our National Parks – free!

Admittance is free to five of our National Parks and Historic Sites over Veterans Day weekend, November 11-13. Which one will you choose?  The thick green and ancient feel of Olympic National Park? The mountain meadows and iconic trails of Mt. Rainier National Park? The wind-swept beaches and coastal rainforests of Lewis and Clark National Historic Park? Or perhaps you’ll tour the Fort Vancouver or Whitman Mission Historical Sites?

Whatever you choose, you can find directions and other information at the National Park Service website today. And let us know where you go – try out Twitter, Facebook, or the box below!
View of Cannon Beach in Oregon
Cannon Beach, Oregon - Looking south from Chapman Point Image: flickr/OSU Special Collections & Archives

2. Remember Washington veterans at the Seattle Veterans Museum

You can do so virtually or in person! The museum’s Remembrance Garden lists the names of all Washington State service members killed during wartime. It is located in downtown Seattle on the west side of Benaroya Hall (2nd Avenue between Union and University). Hours are from 10 AM to 5 PM, including Friday and Saturday. Afterward, why not wander on over to the Seattle Aquarium, where you can learn about the wonders of our oceans and Puget Sound? It’s only four blocks away!

3. Join veterans to restore Hamm Creek Estuary

Join the Veterans Conservation Corps, the Sierra Club, Warrior Gateway and Service Nation in their efforts to transform Hamm Creek Estuary into a more natural setting. An abundance of wildlife, including beaver, salmon, osprey and bald eagle make the estuary their home. As stated in their web invitation, the restoration builds communities, particularly for veterans who find solace and healing by spending time in the estuary:

Hamm Creek Estuary embodies the struggles veterans face in their transition into civilian life and the promise of a better tomorrow through hard work, perseverance and teamwork. Through this project we hope to build a stronger community, one blackberry and one volunteer at a time.

Folks will begin arriving at 10 AM and work begins at 11 AM on the 11th at 1000 W. Marginal Place South, Seattle WA, 98108. They ask that you register in advance with Jeremy Grisham at hm2grish (at) yahoo (dot) com.

4. Attend Veterans Day Ceremonies throughout Washington State

Events are scheduled the week of November 5-12 all over the state including:

Jimmy Carter lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 11.11.1978
Jimmy Carter lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, 11/11/1978 Image: U.S. National Archives

For further information on these and other events events, see the list prepared by Washington State’s Department of Veterans Affairs or CBS Seattle.

5. Explore Arctic habitat at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium – Retired & Active Duty admitted free!

Retired and Active Duty military members receive free admission to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on Veterans Day. November 11 also happens to be Artic Animal Play Day – learn about muskox, polar bears, walruses, and other Arctic animals. Be sure to visit the polar bear exhibit to see what it takes to survive in the cold Arctic environment. It’s harsh up there, and the rapid melting of sea ice polar bears depend upon doesn’t make it any easier.

For more information, connect with us on Facebook or check out our website!

Polar bear family in a snowstorm
Polar bears are long-time veterans of the Arctic. Learn how they're trying to adapt to their changing environment at the Point Defiance Zoo or nwf.org. Image: Christy Mazrimas-Ott

6. Tour the Museum of Flight with a veteran – Retired & Active Duty admitted free!

Join the Bottom Line Duo – a fabulous bass and cello duo – as well as the City of Tukwila Mayor and Councilmembers, distinguished veterans, and the Civil Air Patrol Overlake Squadron color guard for a Veterans Day ceremony from 11 AM to 2 PM. All U.S. Veterans and Active Duty military members receive free admission to the Museum of Flight on Veterans Day. Afterward, enjoy the miracle of flight by flying a kite in one of the area’s many parks and green spaces or simply enjoying unstructured time outside with a Green Hour or hours!