2013 Essay Contest Second Place, Senior Division
Nicholas Flores, 11th Grade
Teacher: Rick Block
School: Antigo High School | Wisconsin
Preserving 150 Years of History: 1862-1863, Shifting Tides
President Abraham Lincoln made a comment in his most famous speech that I believe holds true to this day. In it his speech he said in reference to the battlefield “But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.” These powerful words that held so true then have not faded in value over time and we must remember the brave men who gave their lives to forge a more perfect America, an America that today we would have trouble recognizing if not for their valiant sacrifices.
Between the years 1862 and 1863, when the war was officially underway, we saw some of the most devastating battles in American history up to that time. With battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Cold Water, Vicksburg, the clashes between the two iron titans the Merrimack and the Monitor, and Chickamauga, the constantly irregular victories lead many to believe this war would last for years and take many lives. In fact this war claimed more American lives than all other wars fought previously, about 600,000 lives lost on these fields.
Today we owe our culture and beliefs to those very men who gave their lives in such vast numbers. They were willing to die so that others could become free, so why can’t we give our time or a little money to honor these brave soldiers whose ultimate sacrifice forged a better world for all of us? If this ground is so holy that we can’t consecrate it anymore, then we should protect it with the same passion and unquestionable honor. We must protect our past to secure our future, not sacrifice it for a new restaurant down the block.