2015 Essay Contest Second Place, Senior Division
Kamebry, 8th grade
Teacher: Ms. Summers
School: Central Middle School | Indiana
1864-65: Bringing the War to a Close
Like the ocean, history happens in waves, ripples, and tsunamis. There is no way of stopping it once it has occurred and no way in ensuring what will come next. Each piece of time that is hurled our direction is unique and varying in its own way. Some chunks of time are horrid or terrifying, like a looming tsunami, but other time periods are calming and peaceful, much like the gentle, soft ripples of the Pacific. Like the unpredictable and roiling waves of the ocean, history has a way of happening in its own eventful behaviors. And each time a wave crashes, debris is left behind or swept back into the sea.
In this case, the Civil War would’ve been a tsunami. In the far distant middle of an ocean, turmoil begins. Citizens of the United States of America are becoming agitated and anxious over the case of slavery and the equal proportions of free and slave states. As Abraham Lincoln becomes president in 1860 and promises to free the nation of the appalling idea of slavery, a small ripple forms. Then, as seven slave states in the deep South secede from the U.S. and name themselves the Confederate States of the Union, the ripple progresses to a small wave. As energy under the ocean increases, a larger wave is created when war begins at Fort Sumter at Charleston Bay on April 12, 1861. By now, an average-sized swell is rolling across the ocean, but no one would know of the potential this beginning wave could possess. As the war progressed and the wave grew, it soon reached its definitive size: a tsunami. This tremendous force of energy crashes into a beach, swirling and churning and collects everything loose into its typhoon of water. Then, as the civil war ceases to continue, like all waves, it must recede. And what is left behind is a country in shambles, strewn pieces, and confusion. It was as if the nation was dumped startling water down its spine, or the wave recedes, or the civil war ends, the country is left shocked and muddled. Brothers and family members were forever split apart and slaves were left with no homes or food. The tsunami crashed into the beach of the nation, leaving the slaves and separated families struggling under the sand and scrambling away from the surf that was trying to drag them back into the ocean.
It is up to us and future generations to preserve accounts and records of the past. We are the moon, controlling and influencing the waves of history. We have the responsibility of recording and remembering our past, because if not, we will forever be left in the dark. With no definition of how our world came to be, and no recollection of how we arrived here, we could no longer envision the future. We are the moon, and to preserve our waves of history, we must remain in the night sky and illuminate the darkness.