Do we still care about the Civil War? Does the Civil War still matter? Yes it does, and yes we do.
As an educator, I make a constant effort to foster new generations of youth who take an interest in history and realize its importance. Over and over, I explain to students, “You need to understand the past to learn why we are where we are in the present.” This might sound basic to the trained historian or the adult who is interested in history, but it is not to the younger generations who might enjoy playing video games rather than reading books, or whose parents might register them for soccer camp rather than history camp, or visit amusement parks rather than historic sites on family vacation.
There are things that we do every day and things that we take for granted that are the direct result of the Civil War. Do you wash your hands every day or have you ever broken a bone? It was during the Civil War that significant advancements in the medical field regarding germs and technology were made. Do children go to different classrooms just because of how they look? No, it was during the Civil War that the abolition of slavery and the 13th Amendment began the path towards Civil Rights and equality.
Not only do these connections create a gateway of relevance and understanding for youth, it helps them understand the world they see around them. The southern states were profoundly impacted by the end of the Civil War. Natural resources were gone and towns and cities were destroyed, and we still see the effects of that even still today. Younger generations constantly encounter monuments, parks, and buildings dedicated to the memory of the Civil War, but because there is no connection, they might just walk the area playing Pokémon or cut through the area without taking notice.
Yes, mostly everyone who reads Civil War Times Magazine and the Emerging Civil War blog cares about the Civil War and thinks it is important. That’s the easy part. The harder ongoing battle is to help change the minds of those who don’t, and the way to do that is by making connections to things they do care about.