I grew up in Yorktown, Virginia. It’s not a big place. You can get anywhere in town within 15 minutes. The most exciting place to go on a Friday night is the Wal-Mart. It was big news when we finally got a Sonic drive-in. It’s simple.
There’s a gem that a lot of the residents overlook or don’t fully appreciate and that is Yorktown National Battlefield. It connects with Williamsburg and Jamestown via the Colonial Parkway and provides one of the most comprehensive local (and national) history lessons you can find.
Yorktown is the site of the last major battle between the British and American Revolutionaries. General Cornwallis submitted a formal surrender to General George Washington on October 19th, 1781 (locally known and celebrated as Yorktown Day). Yorktown was again the site of warfare during the civil war nearly a century later in May of 1862.
The grounds are hallowed — the redoubts, entrenchments, and fortifications are still visible, intact, or restored. Enormous cannons are arranged on display as they would have been two and a half centuries ago. The battlefields are still virtually the same as they were.
It’s not something I fully appreciated until my senior year of high school and eventually my weekend trips home during college. Yorktown National Battlefield went from being just a place we went as kids to hang out on the beach to something that had extreme historical and personal significance.
I had started my journey with photography here and it still remains one of my favorite places to be. Not simply because of the historical significance but the emotional connection that I have to the site. Spend a midsummer’s evening sunset overlooking the York River and you’ll know what I mean.
To many other people it may be just another place but to me it will always remind me of where I came from both creatively and as a person. It has been my retreat and my home and it will always be remembered fondly and visited often.