Controversial Grants Given for Civil War Battlefield Restoration
- Author: Jeffrey Simmons
- Posted: 2022-11-14
In the American lexicon, no two words strike up as much emotion as "Civil War." It was a time in America's history that was brutal, to say the least. Over 600,000 Americans died as two geographic regions of the nation fought. The South fought to secede from the Union and to keep up their practice of slavery, while the North fought to unify the South into the Union and get rid of the practice of slavery. All American children in public school learn about the Civil War, and it's something that millions of Americans care deeply about, and so they like visiting the famous landmarks. On Thursday, Nov 10, the National Park Service announced that it was rewarding an estimated $350,000 in "Battlefield Restoration Grants" for many of the historic battlefields along the east coast, mainly in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
This news has been instantly polarizing, as one might imagine. You might remember just a couple of years ago, as entire packs of protesting people went and tore down numerous statues all throughout the south, claiming that they were "glorifying" generals and other notable participants of the Southern Rebel forces. No amount of context mattered here. You simply are not allowed to erect a statue of someone that today's American populace considers a bad, immoral person, and so these statues were dropping like flies. Of course, that same crowd has now been shouting on social media about how awful these grants are. They don't want these battlefields restored; they want them torn up and strip malls or houses built over them. These are people who believe that just keeping these things around as artifacts glorifies the Civil War and promotes slavery.
Reasonable people see this in an entirely different way, of course. They understand that the Civil War is perhaps the biggest part of America's history other than the American Revolution (the War for Independence). They claim that having these historic landmarks is a reminder to all Americans what can happen if America continues to be polarized. They view these battlefields as something to revere, and something to learn from. "We're not trying to emulate the battles," claimed one person on Twitter. "We just want everyone to recognize that war is bad, and that this war nearly tore us apart."
It's not a whole lot of funding, to be sure. These grants are relatively small. Then again, it's only for land restoration, not to build any actual buildings per se. The idea, according to the National Park Service, is to "restore day-of-battle conditions" at these sites. These grants will go to sites where the Revolutionary war was fought, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. So, it's not specifically to fund Civil War sites, although those will be primarily the sites that end up with the money, and that's the only thing the critics will focus on for sure.
Americans Are Strange About American History
Most Americans have a very strange relationship with American history. This is particularly true for millennials and Gen Z. Perhaps it's because history has taken a backseat in education to things like gender identity and expression, and new, prolonged ways to do simple math with common core principles. America has fallen behind nearly every single developed country in the world in terms of education. When it comes to American history, most people 40 and under cannot even name a handful of Presidents and they seem to have no idea about dates of historic events.
For the National Park Service and many other individuals and organizations, it's of vital importance that Americans understand America's history. However, it's just not a very popular thing. Especially with kids these days, they would much rather learn about TikTok trends. You can hold up a picture of a famous politician, and they have no idea who it is, unless it's Obama, Trump or Biden. This sort of education is being pushed hard by America's teachers' unions. These unions want tenure and pay raises for teachers, while also demanding a softer curriculum that they can more easily teach. Many fear that history may soon be pulled out of school entirely
Just keep in mind that these grants aren't making anyone rich. It's around $350,000 in total, with sites like Gettysburg receiving $62,000 and New Market battlefield in Virginia receiving only $28,000. The idea is just to restore the grounds, so that people can visit and understand one of the nation's biggest events.