2015 Essay Contest Second Place, Junior Division

Elliot, 5th grade

Teacher: Ms. Reynolds
School: Stiles Point Elementary School | Charleston, SC

1864-65: Bringing the War to a Close

It’s 1864 and bullets are whizzing through the air. A young drummer boy taps out the smooth rhythm on his drum commanding the soldiers. At that place and time on the battlefield, where blood was shed and lives were lost, the importance of that land seemed little if any at all. The main focus was on winning the war, not on preserving the land. As Jefferson Davis put it, "The past is dead; let it bury its dead, its hopes and its aspirations; before you lies the future -- a future full of golden promise."  But here in the future we want to honor our past.

What difference does it make whether or not we preserve the battlefields? I feel that it is our duty as citizens to pay respects to the soldiers who fought for our country, Union or Confederate. In the heat of war, rash decisions are made that most of the time cannot be undone, but whatever the decision is everyone stands behind their leader. General Ulysses S. Grant was causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Union Soldiers, but Lincoln stood beside him because he believed that it would end the war quicker, and it did. Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm.”  Each side of the Civil War thought they had their feet in the right place. Each side stood firm until there were 620,000 fewer people standing.

What is the lesson we learn from preserving these battle sites? Is it the struggle of the soldiers? Is it the death of slavery? Or the birth of a stronger nation? It is up to you to decide.

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