VNMP offers free admission for MLK Day

Published 9:35 am Monday, January 19, 2015

FEE-FREE: Vicksburg National Military Park is offering free admission in celebration of MLK Day.

FEE-FREE: Vicksburg National Military Park is offering free admission in celebration of MLK Day.

Vicksburg National Military Park will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by offering free admission all day to the hallowed battleground.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January. As a leader in the civil rights movement, King protested racial discrimination until his assassination in 1968. The campaign for a Federally recognized holiday honoring King began soon after his assassination. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law. It was first observed in 1986.
Entrance into the park includes the exhibit of 1,300 statues, busts, relief portraits, monuments, markers, and tablets collectively regarded as one of the most extensive collections of outdoor art in the world.
Inside the visitors center a 20-minute orientation film and exhibits on Confederate trenches, a hospital room, a Union officer’s tent, the Battle of Milliken’s Bend and cave life are displayed.
USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum includes items preserved by mud and silt, from the bottom of the Yazoo River for 102 years before being raised, restored, and placed on display.
Pemberton’s Headquarters at 1018 Crawford Street retains much of its historic fabric dating from the 1863 siege.
The national cemetery is the final resting place of about 17,000 Union soldiers — the largest concentration of Civil War dead in any national cemetery.
The cemetery also has the highest concentration of burials of U.S. Colored Troops in the nation. About 25,000 formerly enslaved men from Mississippi enlisted in the Union army after Vicksburg fell following a 47-day siege in the late spring and summer of 1863.
The cemetery was established by an act of Congress in 1866 and remained open to burial until 1961. Just a handful of those who have purchased plots and are eligible for burial in the cemetery are still living.
The holiday is the first fee-free day this year, according to the National Park Service.
Other fee-free days include: Presidents’ Day Weekend Feb. 14 through 16; First Weekend of National Park Week April 18-19; National Park Service Birthday Aug. 25; National Public Lands Day Sept. 26 and Veterans Day Nov. 11.

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