George Washington (1732-1799), the nation's first president and hero of the Revolutionary War, is buried in a peaceful wooded area on the grounds of his scenic estate high above the Potomac River. "Washington was an incredibly strong and steadfast leader during a critical and tumultuous time in our history," Brinkley says. "My parents would take me to visit his grave every year. I was always awed to think that George Washington was right there in front of me." 703-780-2000; mountvernon.org
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Honolulu
Known as "The Punchbowl," this cemetery is inside an extinct volcanic crater. "Among the 47,000 veterans laid to rest here are hundreds of unidentified soldiers and sailors who died in the Pacific Theater during World War II," Brinkley says. "It's a truly dramatic setting — the rim offers magnificent views of Oahu." At nearby Pearl Harbor, the public can visit the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors those who perished in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that thrust the United States into World War II. 808-532-3720; www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp
Ketchum Cemetery Ketchum, Idaho
"America has several notable World War I heroes, but I think Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) deserves mention," Brinkley says. "He was almost killed by shrapnel while driving an ambulance with the Red Cross in Italy, and also served as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He wrote vivid accounts of battle and produced two great novels based on his wartime experiences: A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls." 208-726-3841; ketchumidaho.org
Lori Piestewa Gravesite Tuba City, Ariz.
Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa (1979-2003) was the first female U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq war and the first Native American woman killed in combat. "I came upon Lori's grave when I visited a Hopi community doing research for a book," Brinkley says. "Her memorial in a tiny cemetery outside town serves as a reminder that almost every community in America has a local hero to whom people can pay their respects."