WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis today marked the 150th anniversary of President-elect Abraham Lincoln's arrival in Washington by officially kicking off the National Park Service's observance of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.
Following President Obama's Feb. 16 report and memorandum establishing the America's Great Outdoors initiative, Salazar has been visiting with communities around the country to highlight the importance of working with the American people to develop a conservation ethic for the 21st century, and reconnecting people with our nation's history, culture and natural beauty.
The observance will include programs and initiatives over the next five years designed not only to commemorate the events of the war but also to provide an understanding of the legacy of those events in the continuing struggle for civil rights in America.
“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,” said Salazar. “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.”
Salazar and Jarvis made the announcement at the conclusion of the Lincoln Inaugural Journey, a 13-day National Park Service program that revisited 16 cities and towns at which Lincoln made remarks during his journey. Lincoln arrived in Washington to assume the presidency of a United States already fractured by the secession of seven southern states.
Salazar thanked the wide variety of organizations and cosponsors that made the Lincoln Inaugural Journey a success, including National Park Service sites, local museums, schools, and Amtrak, which provided train service so that the last leg of Lincoln Inaugural Journey from Baltimore to Washington could take place on the rails, as Lincoln's journey did 150 years ago.
"Just a few short years after President Lincoln took his historic journey to Washington by rail, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed,” said Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak's vice president of marketing and product development. “Amtrak is proud to continue in that grand tradition connecting the nation as America's intercity passenger rail provider and high-speed operator."
As part of today's announcement, NPS Director Jon Jarvis laid out many features that the public will find during the commemoration's next five years, including:
• 150th anniversary website – The official launch of nps.gov/civilwar150 occurred today, a resource designed to highlight the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The site provides a comprehensive calendar of events for the anniversary period, as well as historical features
• 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, these events will include:
o Lincoln Inaugural Journey – at 18 venues along the original journey route (February 11-23)
o Fort Sumter – Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina (April 9-17)
o First Battle of Manassas – Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia (July 21)
o National symposium on The Ordeal of The Border States – hosted by Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore (April 15)
• Interpretive Media – A new National Park Service handbook, The Civil War Remembered, will be published in 2011, designed to provide a measure of understanding of the war and its lessons that still resonate 150 years later. Additionally, funding is being provided to upgrade museum galleries, wayside exhibits, and audio-visual programs at Civil War parks throughout the country.
• Battlefield Preservation – Through the anniversary period, the National 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.