2013 Essay Contest First Place, Junior Division

Alec Webb, 5th Grade

Teacher: Mary Ellen Mercer
School: Potomac Elementary School | Virginia

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

The Battle of Gettysburg took place on July 1st 1863. The Confederate Army led by General Robert E. Lee, and Union forces led by Major General George Meade; faced each other in one of the greatest battles of the Civil War. With its large number of casualties and strategic importance, it is considered to be the war's turning point; shifting the tide to the Union's favor. This historical ground should be preserved so that it may be enjoyed by future generations.

After the Civil War, Gettysburg became a symbol of healing. As President Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address, it is "a final resting place for those who gave their lives that the Nation might live." In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial for the 51,000 soldiers who were killed, captured, and missing. The outcome of the war determined the direction that our nation would progress as it reunited. It laid the foundation for a nation free of slavery and was the beginning of a long road towards equal rights for all citizens.

The Gettysburg Foundation has done much to keep the park from being lost to commercial development. The Foundation's efforts have raised funds for preservation and have led efforts to keep the park clean. The Civil War Trust has also managed to preserve 815 acres of the original battleground. It is disrespectful to our nation to take away pieces of our history to build McDonalds, and other buildings like it. To forget our past is to forget the progress that has been made. Our history must be remembered so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.

The Gettysburg Foundation. (n.d.). Visit The Gettysburg Battlefield. Retrieved April 08, 2013, from http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/

Gettysburg. (n.d.). The Battle of Gettysburg Summary & Facts. Retrieved April 08, 2013, from http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg.htmI?tab=facts

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