Second Place, Senior Essay Contest 2010
Madison Maguire, 8th Grade
Teacher: Thomas Lauth
School: Trinity School: Ellicott City, MD
"Take Action: Save Civil War Battlefields"
Approximately 20 percent of Civil War battlefields have been destroyed. Of those remaining, only about 15 percent are protected as National Parks. In the Civil War, more than 620,000 American soldiers, sailors, and marines gave up their lives. This terrible suffering should not be celebrated, nor should it be completely blotted from the national memory.
When being present on a battlefield, one can truly experience an emotional understanding with the very men who fought there. If you just close your eyes, you can hear the hoarse yells of survivors of the Twentieth Maine as they commenced a bayonet charge at Little Round Top or even the first rebel yell at Manassas. By visiting any Civil War battlefield, one can envision these scenes and comprehend their meanings.
In the Spotsylvania area of Virginia, there is nothing but housing. Also, a Pizza Hut currently stands at the site of the Battle of Franklin. It is up to us to save and protect these dwindling Civil War battlefields so that future generations can enjoy and visit them. It is crucial that we protect these historical sites, for without them, we couldn't actually accept and comprehend all of the determination the men felt when they so willingly died for our country.
We, as Americans, cannot forget what took place on these historic battlefields. The ability for us to find a personal bond with one of the most memorable events in American history sets the Civil War and its battlefields apart from most other occurrences. They need to be protected and preserved because they are the answers to questions not yet asked and for important purposes not yet perceived. Because of this, Civil War battlefields are a vital link in the past traditions that bind our nation together.