Where it began, where it continues: 242 Years of Celebrating July 4th in Philadelphia

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On July 4th 242 years ago, a room full of delegates and appointed officials signed into being a new nation built on ideals now nearly synonymous with the American way of life.  On that day, there was no certainty that the United States would win their battle against England but there was trepidation, determination, and courage. Little did the Founding Fathers know what they would create with their signatures when they signed into being the Declaration of Independence. This Wednesday marks July 4th- an annual holiday commemorating the birth of America and celebrating the American people. 

Where history began and where it continues

In 1682, nearly one hundred years before the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, William Penn arrived seeking to settle a land of religious tolerance for himself and his fellow Quakers. This vision was realized through the formation of his namesake Pennsylvania and, within it, Philadelphia- a name combining the Greek words phileo – meaning ‘love’- and adelphos- meaning ‘brother’- which has led to its famous nickname as “the city of brotherly love.”1

Today, Philadelphia still holds its place as a major American city. It is both a modernized tourist attraction and a glimpse into its history as the birthplace of the United States of America. Being that USI Affinity’s headquarters is located in this remarkable city, we are presenting you with a list of five (out of the many) must see locations in Philadelphia for the 4th of July.

Top five places to visit in Philadelphia

1. Christ Church

Nestled among the busy streets of Philadelphia’s Old City, the tower and steeple of stand tall against the backdrop of high-rise office buildings and skyscrapers. An anachronism serving as a bastion for American history, Christ Church was Founded in 1695 as the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania2.

Once the tallest building in America until 1856, the current structure was erected in 1744 with its steeple and tower added in 1754 with funds collected by famous parishioner Benjamin Franklin2. It was in this church that many important figures in American history- such as William Penn, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington- met and worshiped. This common gathering space played a crucial role in the Revolutionary era as it not only served as a common ground for these American figureheads but it also welcomed the Continental Congress, hosted President George Washington and other legislators during national days of prayer, and symbolized the new nation’s break from the Church of England. According to the church’s website, it was in Christ Church that “the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States was created from the ashes of the Church of England.”3

Today, approximately 250,000 visitors each year come to see the historic church and its burial ground, wherein seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the Constitution are buried. It is open for tours and also serves as an active Episcopal Church with weekly services. 3

Fun Fact: Christ Church is where the American Episcopal Church was formed.

2. The Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution has recently been opened in the city that the war for independence began- Philadelphia. The new 118,000 square foot museum not only showcases its collection of artifacts from the Revolutionary War and the Revolutionary Period, but immerses visitors into the historic time period.4

The museum has thirty-one audiovisual experiences, twenty life-like figures and ten theaters among its hundreds of artifacts4. In addition to highlighting the stories of the Founding Fathers and Revolutionary War soldiers, the museum provides an “inclusive picture of the American Revolution that is often overlooked by other institutions” 4 by including stories from both enslaved and free Africans, Native Americans, and women.

For more information about the museum, click here.

Fun Fact: According to the Museum of the American Revolution’s website, one of the most “anticipated pieces in the museum is General Washington’s Headquarters Tent, an iconic piece of history where President George Washington slept and made world-changing decisions.“4

3. The Delaware River Waterfront- Penn’s Landing

In 1682, visionary William Penn first docked on the shores of what would become the foundation of his place in American history- Pennsylvania.1 Today, Penn’s arrival in what would become his namesake state is celebrated through Penn’s Landing, a stretch of the Pennsylvania bank along the Delaware River Waterfront. Despite its name, the Penn’s Landing that exists today as a popular tourist attraction is not exactly where Penn landed or made the infamous treaty with the Lenape Indians granting him the land that is now Pennsylvania. That location is actually several miles north of Penn’s Landing. Regardless, Penn’s Landing blends in with the historic district of Philadelphia along the edge of Old City. It hosts numerous concerts and events all throughout the year- including movie screenings, open air concerts, ice skating and fireworks for the 4th of July.5

Fun Fact: Today, a historic marker commemorates the real spot where Penn first set foot on what would become Pennsylvania soil, located in Chester, PA

4. The Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky Statue)

Hailed as the third-largest art museum in the nation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is located at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in central Philadelphia and overlooks the Delaware River. Founded in 1876 as a museum for decorative arts located in Memorial Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art was relocated in 1928 to its current Greek-inspired building6. Today, the museum features a wide variety of Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern art.6

In connection with the famed museum is another celebrated Philadelphia must-see attraction. At the bottom of the stairs leading to the East Entrance of the museum is the famous Rocky Statue. This bronze statue was created in the likeness of actor Sylvester Stalone’s character Rocky Balboa for the filming of Rocky III. Stalone donated the statue to the city of Philadelphia where the movie took place and it has become a popular tourist attraction.7

Fun Fact: The stairs leading to the East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are well known as the “The Rocky Steps”, an attraction that, like the Rocky Statue, was made famous by the Rocky movies. The steps have even been declared as the second most famous movie filming location in the entire world.7

5. Independence National Historic Park

What better way to celebrate the birth of a nation than at the very place the Founding Fathers signed the country into being? Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park is widely known as the “birthplace of American democracy”.8 Its grounds see approximately 4.3 million visitors per year and host multiple historic treasures, such as Independence Hall wherein the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation and the U.S. Constitution were signed.

Originally erected as the State House of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1732 until 1756, Independence Hall hosted “historical milestones” including meetings of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783, the ascension of George Washington in 1775 as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.8 With its time as an operational hub for legislative action long since passed, Independence Hall now serves as a historic monument and is open regularly for guided tours.

Outside of Independence Hall, the Independence National Historic Park includes the popular Liberty Bell Center, the First Bank of the United States, Franklin Court, National Constitution Center, and Independence Visitor Center among others. The park in it’s entirely, as does each of the historic sites that it is comprised of, preserves the foundation upon which the United States was built. For more information about the park, click here.

Fun Fact: Now the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital from 1790 until a permanent capital was established in Washington, D.C., in 1800.1

Ready to see American history unfold before your eyes on your next travel excursion? Contact Travel Insurance Services for all of your travel insurance needs by clicking here or calling 1-800-937-1387. 

 

References:

  1. History.com Staff. (2009). Pennsylvania. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/pennsylvania
  2. Christ Church. (2016, August 09). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/history/philadelphia/christ-church/
  3. Church History and Those Who Attended. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.christchurchphila.org/Historic-Christ-Church/Church/Church-History-and-Those-Who-Attended/86/
  4. Museum of the American Revolution. (2017, May 24). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/museum-of-the-american-revolution/
  5. Penn's Landing. (2016, August 16). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/outdoor-activities/philadelphia/penns-landing/
  6. Philadelphia Museum of Art — visitphilly.com. (2017, March 28). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/philadelphia-museum-of-art/
  7. The Rocky Statue And The Rocky Steps. (2017, June 15). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/the-rocky-statue-and-the-rocky-steps/
  8. Independence National Historical Park. (2016, June 13). Retrieved June 25, 2017, from http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/independence-national-historical-park/

Travel Insurance Services Staff Spotlight: Patti Kirkpatrick
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Travel Insurance Services is more than a set of select travel insurance products. We take pride in having experienced world travelers working with us to guide our customers through choosing the perfect coverage options for them. We sat down with our very own Patti Kirkpatrick, USI VIP Travel Insurance Specialist, to hear about her experience in the travel industry as well as her passion for a jet set lifestyle.

  • Tell us a little about yourself and your experience in the travel industry.

“I primarily assist people traveling on National Geographic Private Jet trips and their Expeditions as well as people traveling with Academic Arrangements Abroad.  I’ve been in the travel industry for 35 years, the last two of them selling travel insurance as well as being a travel advisor.”

  • Where have you yourself traveled?

“One of the biggest blessings of working in the travel industry has been my opportunity to see the world. I love to brag that I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. (It’s still on my bucket list!) My most recent trip was to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador!”

  • Any unique/interesting/favorite stories from your travels?

“When visiting Rome a few years ago, I reserved a tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before it opened to the public. It was a thrill of a lifetime for someone who went through 12 years of Catholic schools and who studied Italian Renaissance Art in college.  I felt as giddy as a school girl when I walked into the Vatican immediately on the footsteps of the Swiss Guard as he opened the doors for the day.  Just thinking about it again brings a big smile to my face and raises the hair on the back of my neck.”

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What’s your favorite travel story? Create new stories on your next vacation, but don’t forget to pack your travel insurance! Learn more about our products at www.travelinsure.com.


Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Past and the Future

This March, people across the nation will celebrate Women’s History Month- a month long holiday celebrating the achievements and contributions of women throughout history across nearly every industry. One does not have to look far to see the influence women have had in medicine, politics, technology, literature and nearly every industry or aspect of society. This month is a time of reflection as much as it is an opportunity to look beyond the glass ceiling and into the future for women. To further continue the social, economic, and professional growth of women, there are countless organizations, events and initiatives. Take a look at our short list for inspiration:

1. Forbes Women’s Summit –June 18th-19th in New York, New York: NYC

“Forbes Women’s Summit celebrates the doers and the doing; a source of inspiration and support that connects and empowers women around the world, helping them to realize their potential and reach new heights.” The Big Apple is once again serving as the backdrop for the annual Forbes Women’s Summit. This empowering event, coming up in 2018 on June 18-19th, opens up the dialogue among its attendees by offering keynote conversations, interviews, and panel discussions that focus on pressing topics. “[T]he Forbes Women’s Summit brings together the voices and insights of a diverse range of female luminaries from the worlds of business, entertainment and politics.” This summit will pull together 300 women, 45% at the ‘C-level’, from across over 20 industries with 27 U.S. states represented.

For more information about the Women’s Summit, click here.

2. Stand Up Lift Up 29th Annual Conference for Women in Business – April 24th in San Francisco, California: Sanfran

The Professional Business Women of California (PBWC)’s Stand Up Lift Up 29th Annual Conference for Women in Business will take place on April 24th in San Francisco, offering attendees opportunities to hear keynote speakers, participate in “cutting-edge” seminars, be involved with panels of experts, and take advantage of networking opportunities. This PBWC conference is an “annual opportunity to reflect, recharge, refocus and renew your commitment to achieving your ambitions and supporting others to achieve theirs.”

For more information about the Stand Up Lift Up 29th Annual Conference for Women in Business, click here.

  3. 2018 Professional Women in Advocacy Conference – October 9th-10th in Washington D.C.:DC

Professional Women in Advocacy (PWIA) focuses on the belief “that when women are involved at the highest levels of policy making, everyone benefits.” PWIA focuses primarily on women who work on various advocacy roles. The organization’s 2018 Professional Women in Advocacy Conference provides “professional development and leadership training to women in all areas of advocacy…” The conference attendees will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of women from across many different industries, including lobbyists, elected officials, and public policy specialists. Topics for these speaking engagements during the conference include a large variety of “how-to topics relevant to legislative and regulatory advocacy.”

To learn more about the 2018 Professional Women in Advocacy Conference, click here.

4. National Women's Business Conference 2018 – September 23rd-25th in Spokane, Washington: Spokane

“Work Well, Live Well” is the theme driving this year’s National Women's Business Conference 2018, taking place on September 23-25th. National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) focuses on representing and “propelling” over the 10.1 million women business owners across the nation and working in all industries. Keynote speakers at this event will include Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic! and Shabnam Mogharab, SoulPancake’s CEO/Executive Producer.

To learn more about the National Women's Business Conference 2018 and/or to register, check out the event’s webpage here.

  5. Twin Cities Women’s Leadership Summit 2018 – June 6th in Minneapolis, Minnesota:Minn

“Women Get Big Things Done.” Put on by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), the Twin Cities Women’s Leadership Summit 2018 will take place on June 6th in Minneapolis. Attendees, consisting primarily of women in or looking to moving into leadership positions, will learn about such concepts as “Connectional Intelligence” - a term referring to a “modern, feminine leadership skill” helping professional in their careers by drawing upon valuable relationship building skills and networking.

To learn more about the Twin Cities Women’s Leadership Summit 2018 and other upcoming NAFE events, click here.

There are many conferences across the nation geared specifically toward the education, development and empowerment of professional women. Wherever you travel to this year, whether for work, professional development or vacation, don’t forget to pack your travel insurance! Find the right policy to fit your needs here.


Celebrating Black History Month Across the Country

February marks Black History Month, a month long celebration of the contributions, accomplishments, and struggles of African Americans throughout history.  Across the nation, there are countless memorials, monuments and historic sites honoring African American culture and influence.  In honor of this celebratory month, Travel Insurance Services has created a short list of travel destinations for the whole family.

1) Martin Luther King National Historical Park – Atlanta, GA EdOnly MLK

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the famed civil rights activist credited for his leadership during the American Civil Rights Movement.  In honor of his life and accomplishments, Martin Luther King National Historic Park is established in his home city of Atlanta, GA, attracting crowds of American as well as international visitors.  The historic site, recently raised up to a National Historic Park status as of 2018, includes the visitor center, Dr. King’s childhood home, his grave site, Ebenezer Baptist Church (where both he and his father served as pastors), "I Have A Dream" World Peace Rose Garden, Fire Station No. 6, the Behold Monument, and The King Center.  According to the National Park Service, the Park is considered a top Atlanta tourist destination.  For more information about the Martin Luther King Historic District, visit the website here. (Photo Editorial credit: Steven Frame / Shutterstock.com)

2) Underground Railroad Heritage Trail – New York EdOnlyPlymouth Church

The Underground Railroad was more than a series of paths leading African Americans northward, it was a physical progression representing the treacherous journey to freedom. Today, that harrowing journey embarked on by countless African Americans is commemorated by the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail located in New York, which was considered a “major destination” for those seeking freedom.  Before hitting the trail, be sure to check out the National Park Service’s National Register Travel Itinerary for a list of museums, memorials, and historic sites on this trail and along similar historic trails in many other states.  As an example, one such historic site is Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims located in Brooklyn, NY. This church was a focal point of the antislavery movement in the years leading up to the Civil War.  For more information about the New York Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, click here. (Photo Editorial credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

3) National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis, TN EdOnlyNatCivilRights

The National Civil Rights Museum is an important hub tracing Civil Rights throughout American history, with it’s own brick-and-mortar foundation standing upon history itself.  The museum itself is situated on what was once the Lorraine Motel- the location where world famous activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was tragically assassinated in April of 1968.  The National Civil Rights Museum contains 260 artifacts, over 40 films, interactive media exhibits and more.  The numerous exhibitions trace history “from the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality," according to the museum’s website.  To learn more about the museum and/or to plan your visit, check out the website here. (Photo Editorial credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com)

EdOnly Mary McLeod Bethune4) Lincoln Park- Washington, D.C

The largest of the Capitol Hill Parks, Lincoln Park celebrates the freeing of African American slaves and the progress of the Civil Rights Movement.  The park is home to the famed Mary McLeod Bethune memorial, which is credited with being the first monument in the nation to honor a black woman in a Washington D.C. public park.  Her memorial shows Mrs. Bethune handing a her legacy to two children.  Additionally, the park’s namesake, President Abraham Lincoln, has a memorial depicting his likeness holding the Emancipation Proclamation before an African American kneeling in front of him donning broken chains.  Today, Lincoln Park is considered a major destination for tourists visiting Washington D.C.  To plan your trip and/or to learn more about the park’s monuments, check out the website. (Photo Editorial credit: Valerii Iavtushenko / Shutterstock.com )

5) Rosa Parks Museum – Montgomery, AL EdOnly Montgomery Bus boycott

Owned and operated by Troy University, the Rosa Parks Museum commemorates the life of American Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks.  Mrs. Parks sparked the start the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man on December 1, 1955.  She was arrested and found guilty, inciting others to form the movement that would change the legality of segregation on public transport.  Her influence, and that of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during the Civil Rights Movement was invaluable.  Today the museum’s mission states: “Our mission is to honor her legacy and that of the boycott by providing a platform for scholarly dialogue, civic engagement and positive social change.”  For more information about the museum, visit the website here. (Photo Editorial credit: JNix / Shutterstock.com)

Bonus!

  PPhillyartmuseumhiladelphia Museum of Art – Philadelphia, PA

Rising above the Schuylkill River, facing the birthplace of the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an iconic Philadelphia landmark that has gained international recognition.  The third largest art museum in the nation, this museum’s design as it stands today was lead by chief designer and the first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture school Julian Abele.  To plan your trip to the museum, visit the website here.  This museum is one of the many reasons USI Affinity is proud to call Philadelphia home! (Photo credit: Samuel Borges Photography / Shutterstock.com)

 

This list is only a snapshot of the numerous parks, monuments, historic sites and memorials nationwide paying homage to Civil Rights activism and African American history.  Wherever you travel, travel with peace of mind knowing that your trip is protected with Travel Insurance Services. Learn more on our website.


A Presidential Tour: Five Historic Sites to Travel to for President’s Day Weekend

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President’s Day is a holiday commemorating the nation’s former and current leaders. From coast to coast, and sea to shining sea, there are hundreds of parks, memorials and the like honoring the national pride and history of the presidential office.  Not sure where to go to really celebrate the long weekend? Check out our list for ideas!

Mt Rushmore1) SOUTH DAKOTA: Rising high above the tree line of the park below, national figureheads George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. They forever look out upon the country they have helped liberate, unite, and develop through both actions and words that continue to influence rising generations. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located in South Dakota, is an infamous American landmark and popular historical travel destination, symbolizing not only the nation’s history but also “a promise for the future.” Plan your visit to this national treasure on it’s official website here.  

Monticello2) VIRGINIA: "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...But though an old man, I am but a young gardener." Thomas Jefferson is well-known as an American Founding Father, the writer who penned the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. However, a visit to his plantation home of Monticello presents a glimpse into his life beyond these iconic roles. Located near Charlottesville, Va., The Jefferson Monticello is open to the public for visits and tours, preserving the plantation’s historical integrity as well as educating visitors on the man behind the house. It is famous in part for its historic gardens, which were designed as a sort of showpiece, used to grow food and also dedicated to experimenting with plants from all over the world. Learn more about the home and its gardens here

Lincolnmemorial3) WASHINGTON, D.C.: "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever." These words are carved into the stone that sits above the likeness of President Abraham Lincoln, famed for his role in navigating the country through the Civil War. The Lincoln Memorial is one among countess structures and memorials paying tribute to the accomplishments and lasting influence over the nation shared by its various leaders.  Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States, as it has been since 1790, housing its presidents and serving as a commonplace to preserve American history. From touring the acclaimed Smithsonian museums to stepping through the doors of U.S. history firsthand at the White House, Washington D.C. has a lot to offer for a weekend getaway.  For more information about the Lincoln Memorial, click here.  To plan your trip to Washington D.C., click here.

Little white house_ga4) GEORGIA: Hidden in away in Warm Springs, Georgia, famed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt erected his getaway home turned historical site, better known as the ’Little White House’.  He traveled first to Warm Springs hoping that the local spring waters would improve his struggle with polio. Though the waters did not serve as a cure, he returned nearly each year to the area and even carried out official political duties at the house. To further mark its presidential significance, John F. Kennedy as a presidential candidate and Jimmy Carter while opening his general election campaign have spoken at the house. Today the Little White House and its pools and springs are a part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Parks and Historic Sites. Next to the house is the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute, serving as a vocational rehabilitation center. For more information about the Little White House, visit the website here.

Regan library5) CALIFORNIA: Nestled on a mountaintop about 45 minutes outside of he Ronald Reagan Presidential Library And Museum The library, administered by the  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), houses presidential records from its namesake’s administration, including over 60 million pages of documentation and 1.6 million photos. The building itself is a representation of the “shining city on a hill” President Reagan spoke of, according to the library’s website, and is his also his burial site. To learn more about library, click here.

The White House, though physically based in Washington D.C., is rooted in the history of every one of these United States. This list is only a snapshot of the numerous parks, monuments and memorials preserving both the pride and legacy of the U.S. presidential office.  Be sure to check out what presidential historical sites are near you!

Wherever you travel this President’s Day weekend, travel with peace of mind knowing that your trip is protected with Travel Insurance Services. Learn more on our website.