The following press release comes from Civil War Trails in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Civil War Trails, Inc. has teamed up with Fairfax County Parks and Recreation, Old Baldy Civil War Round Table and several local stakeholders to launch a new bilingual sign at Ox Hill Battlefield Park. This new sign offers a new amenity for the many Korean and Spanish speaking residents and travelers while complementing the existing signage which interprets the battle to English speaking visitors. This is the first bilingual Civil War Trails sign in the nation, which currently offers over 1,350 sites across six states.
“We are delighted that Ox Hill Battlefield will be home to the first bilingual Civil War Trails marker in the country,” said, Barry Biggar, President and CEO of Visit Fairfax. “It is a fitting location, as Fairfax County is an incredibly diverse and welcoming community. We are proud to be able to tell the story of the only major Civil War Battle in Fairfax County in a truly accessible and equitable way, creating a new segment of tourism ambassadors here in the County and encouraging visitation from non-English speaking travelers who wish to soak up our diverse stories.”
The initial research, conducted by Civil War Trails, Inc. staff included a review of modern demographic studies of Fairfax County to determine the viability of the project as well as investigation into the bilingual or non-English speaking Civil War soldiers. Local consultant Jeremy Suh and Baker-Cruz Services completed initial language translations, while regional residents and stakeholders reviewed the translations to ensure a conversant voice. The Bull Run Civil War Round Table ensured an accurate narrative of the battle and Fairfax County Parks and Recreation approved the final content and location of the pedestal to capture visitors as they enter the park.
“The stories and cast of the Civil War were as varied and diverse as our communities are today,” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails. “By presenting this fuller, more complete history of the Civil War we hope to inspire everyone to find their own stories in this complex national narrative.”
According to Fairfax County’s website, approximately 30% of the county’s population are immigrants. Today, the district where the battlefield park exists includes 29% of residents who speak a language other than English at home, being predominately Spanish or an “Asian/PI” dialect. Similarly, the 1860 census recorded that 13% of the nation’s population were also immigrants. Many of those individuals fought in the Civil War and historians have noted that the military manuals of the day were translated for those soldiers who could not read or speak English.
Esther W. McCullough, Chair of the Ethnic and Oral History Committee for the County’s history commission said, “The Ethnic & Oral History Committee supports the Civil War Trails initiative in being the first in the country to recognize the need for translating historical signs for Spanish and Korean speaking people. We are honored that in our jurisdiction the Battle of Ox Hill signage will now be so displayed. Inclusiveness and accuracy are essential in recording and relaying true history to all. Signage in citizen-friendly familiar languages allows history to be more accessible and better understood to our constituency.”
Each Civil War Trails site around the country has a sustaining sponsor which provides for the maintenance of the interpretive and directional signs and helps market the sites to travelers from around the world. This ensures that the content is always up-to-date with current scholarship and is accessible to their dynamic audience. The Old Baldy Civil War Round Table in New Jersey is sponsoring this new sign in Fairfax. Richard Jankowski, President of the round table said, “(We) are honored to support this historic effort to bring understanding of the American Civil War to the local community and to Spanish and Korean speaking travelers.”
To visit Ox Hill Battlefield Park please visit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/ox-hill
For more information about Civil War Trails or to request a brochure visit: www.civilwartrails.org or use: @civilwartrails #fxva #openairmuseum Please view this PDF for additional information about Civil War Trails and supporting historic tourism.
For more information about the Fairfax County History Commission visit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/history-commission/