Celebrate history through travel in 2012 — Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

Joan of Ark entered the world 600 years ago this year.

Napoleon was running around Russia 200 years ago.

Louisiana became the 18th U.S. state 200 years ago.

The Titanic sank, and the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park opened 100 years ago.

The “Diary of Anne Frank” was published in English 60 years ago.

Canada became wholly independent of Great Britain when Queen Elizabeth II signed the Canada Act 30 years ago.

There are two great interests of mine: Travel and history. One of my minors in college was history (the other was political science). I was looking through some of these “Top Places to Visit in 2012” lists, and I realized many of the places on these lists were included because of historical anniversaries.

That got me thinking. There are a lot of big anniversaries in 2012, and there are some very unique ways to use travel to celebrate each of them.

Here are my suggestions for how to do just that:

Take, for instance, the anniversary of Saint Joan of Ark’s birth (the exact month and day are unclear). One could use this as an opportunity to visit any place in France (she is the nation’s patron saint, after all). Lonely Planet is recommending people visit the town of Orleans, where her military campaign to place the dauphin of France on its throne began.

One could celebrate the anniversary of Napoleon’s excursion into Russia, by visiting the sight of the Battles of Polotsk (in Polotsk, Belarus). There were actually two battles here, in August and November, with a Russian victory in the latter battle helping to throw back the French from Russia.

With Louisiana’s statehood turning 200 this year, one should take it as an opportunity to visit New Orleans (the rest of the state is largely a bore, although Lafayette is somewhat interesting).

Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 21, and it is celebrated across southeastern Louisiana. That seems as good a time as any to visit the state.

If you’re interested in commemorating the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking (in April), then a good place to do it would be in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the ill-fated ship was built.

A new museum on early 20th Century life in Belfast, and on the Titanic itself, is set to open in Belfast, in March. It’s called Titanic Belfast.

If you prefer something more cheerful, then celebrate Fenway Park’s birthday by watching a Red Sox game from atop the “Green Monster.”

With the anniversary of Anne Frank’s diary in English coming up, I would recommend this is a good time to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

The building where she and her family hid has been preserved as a museum on the life of Frank, and on discrimination around the world.

And, that brings us to Canada. With this year marking the Canada Act’s 30th anniversary, you know Canada Day, in Ottawa, Ontario, will be a crazy affair on July 1. It was crazy last year, when I attended the festivities, and that was just for a visit from Prince William, and his wife, Katherine. Say what you will about the Canadians, they really know how to party, and they take their national heritage very seriously.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.