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National Park Service Rolling Out 5-Year Plan to Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Civil War


The Kirkland Monument, at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, commemorates compassion exhibited between the Union and Confederate troops during the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Through the course of the next five years the National Park Service will be rolling out a series of programs to both help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and highlight its impact on the Civil Rights movement in this country.

“The Civil War Sesquicentennial provides us the opportunity to commemorate not only a defining event in our nation’s history but also its legacy in the continuing fight for equal rights for all Americans,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “We look forward in the coming years to both painting an inclusive picture of the Civil War era and to drawing attention to the larger arc from Civil War to Civil Rights. We want to help give the war and events of a century and a half ago meaning to 21st-century Americans.”

According to Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, the agency's commemoration will include the following:

* A 150th anniversary website -- This resource is designed by the Park Service to highlight the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. On it you can find a comprehensive listing of all Civil War sites managed by the Park Service, a calendar of events for the anniversary period, as well as historical features. There's even a handy state-by-state listing of activities already scheduled for the commemoration.

* Commemorative Programs – Hundreds of commemorative programs, special events and symposia are planned during the anniversary years, including a dozen large-scale “Signature Events.” For 2011, here are some examples of these events:

* Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina (April 9-17). During this period living history programs will make up a significant portion of the event. Union troops will be camped at Fort Sumter from April 9-14, then give way to Confederate re-enactors from April 14-17. That changeover follows the historic record, the Park Service notes, as the Union garrison surrendered on April 14th.

Fort Moultrie will be occupied by Confederate re-enactors for the duration of the event (April 9-17) representing units stationed at the fort in April 1861. And at Liberty Square, Confederate and civilian re-enactors will provide programs throughout the nine-day event.

* Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia. The battlefield staff will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas through a variety of special programs and activities on July 21–24. The commemorative program schedule includes special ranger tours of the battlefield, living history and historic weapons demonstrations, exhibits, lectures, and music. The commemorative program will open at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 21, with a ceremony on the grounds of the Visitor Center on Henry Hill. Following the conclusion of the ceremony, the Visitor Center, historic Stone House, and exhibition areas will be opened to the public at 12:00 p.m.

Exhibition areas on the battlefield include a living history camp area on the grounds of the Henry House; a three-dimensional photographic exhibit displaying historic images of the battlefield, to be displayed inside the Henry House; a medical aid station demonstration area on the grounds of the Stone House; and a youth program tent offering exhibits, programs, and activities for younger visitors on the grounds of the Visitor Center. In addition, the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission will debut the Civil War 150 HistoryMobile near Henry Hill beginning Thursday, July 21 and continuing through Sunday, July 24. The HistoryMobile is an 'immersive' exhibit that will present multiple viewpoints on the Civil War.

* Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland. On April 15th a national symposium on The Ordeal of The Border States is scheduled to be held here.

Beyond the special events, a new National Park Service handbook, The Civil War Remembered, is to be published this year. It is designed to provide a measure of understanding of the war and its lessons that still resonate 150 years later, the Park Service said. Additionally, funding is being provided to upgrade museum galleries, wayside exhibits, and audio-visual programs at Civil War parks throughout the country.

Also, throughout the anniversary period the Park Service will continue to preserve Civil War battlefields as sacred ground and honor the memory of those who served and died there, while investing in the acquisition and preservation of additional Civil War sites.


The NPS and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands have just released a free course for interpreters titled "Causes of the Civil War". The course is open to the public and can be found here:

Lets hope The War of Northern Aggression is portrayed in a fair and balanced way and not only from the viewpoint on the Barbarian Yankees!!!LOL

Man, Anonymous, what 150 years difference makes. From 'saving the union and freeing the slaves' to 'lol'. Sheesh.

I'm glad to hear that Director Jarvis is pushing this effort. He said that he wants the NPS to be 'relevant', and looking at the lessons of the Civil War leading on up to the present is definitely relevant. We can do a lot more than just preserve battlefields.

Some friends are working on a film to be released at the beginning of this 5-year celebration, check out the trailer for "47 Miles: March to Destiny" at !


The NPS History e-Library also has electronic editions of Eastern National's 26-volume Civil War Series at:

If there is anything that should be hoped for, it is that this celebration, unlike the one in the 60's and before, commemorates the contributions and sacrifice of United States Colored Troops - true freedom fighters. We in the African-American community, also look forward to celebrating the 150th of The Day of Jubilee, June 19th, 1865, when Texans were forced to release the last remaining slaves, months after the Confederacy had surrendered. This marked the end of Biblical slavery, and the passing of the old United States, where people of African decent could never be citizens, toward a new United States, where they became African-Americans with the right as citizens, to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

The motto of the 6th United States Colored Infantry, "Freedom For All", now became the highest ideal of this United States .This recognition of universal freedom is the most compelling reason for commemorating the Civil War. It has been obscured in past celebrations' emphasis on preserving the Union and reconciliation between North and South. These reduces the war to merely another event, repeated throughout history, in which a rebellion was defeated and the victor rules.

Freedom places the event in the uniquely American context, as a country born out of pursuit of freedom, and the ongoing struggle toward achieving it. In this context, arguments about 'fair representation' and Southern heritage, Northern aggression and hypocrisy ring hollow before the fact that by the end of the war 4 million people were released from bondage, moving the country further on the path toward freedom.

Leon Brooks VP
6th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops, Reenactors, Inc
1st Rhode Island Regiment of Foot, Continental Line

****We Tell the Story of True Freedom Fighters****8

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