Essay Contest 2012 First Place, Junior Entry

Christine Huynh, 7th Grade

Teacher: Barbara Godby
School: Brian and Teri Cram Middle School

Preserving 150 Years of History: 1861-1862, The War Commences

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” –Abraham Lincoln1

Before and during the American Civil War, the United States was seen as separate, self-governing territories that identified themselves as individuals rather than an entire nation. Today, instead of being an entangled accumulation of states due to force, Americans have learned the value of coming together as one nation in time of crisis. As time thrives forward, modern businesses are demolishing the very soil men fought on to conjoin the United States for commercial marketing, which is why it’s the responsibility of future generations to protect these honored areas.

Between 1861 and 1865, Americans declared war on each other and caused deaths in great numbers. “What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States’ Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America.”2 Just months after the declaration of war at Fort Sumter, the first major battle occurred in northern Virginia: The First Battle of Bull Run. The defeat of the Union at Bull Run served as a wakeup call for the North; it galvanized the people’s resolve to fight and win in order to keep the Union intact. The moment when the war had commenced at Fort Sumter, American history was marked forevermore. The First Battle of Bull Run reflects what made Americans strong: an ambition to fight in order to protect the union of all states.

The Civil War is no doubt one of the fundamentals that connects us to our history. Battlefields are some of the most crucial treasures of the past, for they are living, tangible reminders that show the nation’s mistakes. Engraved on American history, battlefields are similar to scars that teach us lessons, educating us like a wound would and reprimanding us harshly for previous errors. Though condemned for their negativity, scars keep one from committing the same mistake twice.

Destroying sacred grounds is destroying America’s legacy. The horrors of war should remain in our memory and culture, teaching us about the past faults of others. These sacred lands are part of our heritage. If modern corporations insist on demolishing hallowed lands, it is to the detriment of all Americans, where the land will not be honored and lay forgotten. Commemoration and preservation will serve as a reminder for us of the dark period in our nation’s history and how as a nation, through victory and defeat, we had come together to fight for equality and to protect the Union. Preserving history can be at odds with growth, but our history needs to be cherished in order to influence future generations. These new generations must remember that this war was real and still has merit even though it was long ago.


1. Chadwick, R. (n.d.). President Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from

2. The War – “The Crossroads of Our Being.” (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2012, from

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