2013 Essay Contest Second Place, Junior Division

Alia Jaffrey, 5th Grade

Teacher: Susan Mascioli
School: Kent Place School | New Jersey

Preserving 150 Years Of History:  1862 -1863, Shifting Tides

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”  - President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.

When Abraham Lincoln spoke these words at the Gettysburg Cemetery, he meant not very many people would remember his speech, but people would always remember the 93,921 Union soldiers who fought on Gettysburg’s Battlefield that our “nation might live.”  It is important for us to preserve Gettysburg because many people gave their lives there in the hope that slavery would end in our country and that our nation would remain intact.  The battlefield is the best way to look back on history.  To return to the actual place where the battle happened can make history come to life.  Standing where the soldiers fought, where President Lincoln stood, trying to reinvigorate the Union and instill hope in the hearts of the soldiers and to encourage them to persevere through the hardships and fighting to come, cannot compare to a history book.  It cannot be replaced, it must not be forgotten.

Today, 112 acres of the Gettysburg Battlefield is a target for casino developers who wish to build on its sacred ground.  If we fail to save these grounds, instead of monuments of history, we will have a temple of cards and coins.  It is awful to think that all these deaths matter little compared to money. 

Without the battles fought at Gettysburg, Antietam, Second Battle of Manassas or the political battles of the Emancipation Proclamation, we would not have the nation we live in today, racial equality with freedom for all.   We might still be a nation ruled by slavery.   We study history whether it is the Civil War, Revolutionary War or the Women’s Suffrage Movement, for example, to learn of the sacrifices that people have made to change the way we live.  To learn what rights we value and to see how our nation has developed and grown.  We study to learn from our mistakes so that we shall never make them again and as Abraham Lincoln said, so that our “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

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