Sunday, October 13, 2013

Civil War Sunday - The Unsung Heroes

This post may veer towards the political, and if so, I am going to try to make it as non partisan as possible.  I have friends, both in "real life" and on Facebook and they are on (as we like to say) "both sides of the aisle".  My blog readers are also found all across the political spectrum, and a number are citizens of other countries.

It's too bad I have to get you involved in our national politics today, but it ties right in with our study of the United States Civil War.  There are many unsung heroes of the war, which ended 148 years ago, and many of them are alive today.  Don't believe me? Read on.

Have you ever seen the Federal Government of the United States as a keeper of history? Consider this: citizens from all over our country, and all over the world, come to the United States to explore our history through visits to national parks, national military parks and national monuments.  Many more travel in cyberspace to the National Park Service website.  These places are all maintained by federal employees.  But our government is shut down and, hence, so are these parks and monuments, and the website - with the exception of unpaid park rangers and others trying to maintain public safety. 

Folks, rangers aren't there just to direct traffic, tell you where the bathroom is and answer questions for the tourists.  They have very real, very dangerous jobs, and if you don't believe it, realize that they sometimes are murdered in the performance of their duty.

Sometimes they are there to save tourists from themselves. 

This, meantime, is what rangers are facing during the government shutdown.

If you visited the NPS (National Park Service website) today, you would find the following.  I am taking the liberty of copying and pasting it, which I normally would not do, to prove a point.  Read, especially, the last paragraph.

Because of the federal government shutdown, national parks are closed and the National Park Service website is not being maintained....

We sincerely regret any inconvenience the closures cause and look forward to once again welcoming you to your national parks. In the meantime, we respectfully request that you honor all park closures. With more than 20,000 National Park Service employees furloughed, the staff that remain on duty are focused on protecting park resources and human life and safety and cannot provide the visitor services that you have come to expect from us for nearly 100 years.
 Thank you for your support during this time.
Dear readers:  The National Park Service is not the enemy. I've read reports that the Park Service employees are going beyond the "call of duty" in shutting sites down.  I really don't care if that is true or not. I am sickened to read about verbal abuse of, and even physical assaults, to unpaid federal rangers and others caught in the shutdown. 

I, in turn, want to thank each and every one of these rangers, and I hope you will join me in this, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat.  The shutdown is NOT a reality show.  People are being hurt.  Military, children with cancer, and - yes, local economies wherever one of these parks or monuments exist.  So much so that the State of Utah, rich in National Parks, is paying to temporarily reopen eight national sites.

If you want the shutdown stopped, call your congressman or senator and express your opinion. Or give money to the political party of your choosing. That's your right.  Making life difficult for rangers is not your right.

Those Civil War battle sites and museums we like to go to?  Well, a lot of them (not all, to be sure) are run by the Federal government  These include some of the top sites in the country.  

Some of these sites are treasured not just by people interested in history, but by birders and wildlife enthusiasts.

I hope the shutdown is over by next Sunday, so I can go back to blogging about the Civil War itself.  In the meantime, I'd like to thank the employees of the sites I visited this past August and September, including Wilson Creek, Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), and the George Washington Carver Birthplace.  I, further want to thank other employees from sites I've visited since just before the 150th anniversary started:  Ft. Sumter, SC, Ft. Pulaski, GA, Antietam (twice), Harpers Ferry,WV Monocacy, and Manassas (Bull Run). And even those visits before the 150th:  Andersonville (home of a wonderful, and free, POW museum which honors POWs of all wars), Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and others.

Your knowledge, your well run visitors centers, and your passion for the Civil War, have enriched my life and increased my knowledge.

And next week, hopefully, I will switch attention to a battlefield in Arkansas, one that is not a federal park, or even a state park.


  1. Hello... saw your post at UBC.
    Thanks for all the time you put into this article. Our nations heritage is very important and it is very sad to see the state that our country has fallen into...
    In God we 'should' trust,

  2. hopefully the government opens soon and people life comes back to normal. so much great information in this post.

  3. I wish the US Government will end the shutdown soon. I did not know about the Park Rangers or about the State of Utah paying to keep their National Parks. Thanks for sharing the facts.

  4. Great post! I hope the partial shut down ends soon too. I'm so ashamed of them all.

  5. I appreciate not only the rangers but all the park employees. On the day before the shutdown, we took a short hike in Shenandoah National Park. Employees were much in evidence picking up trash in the picnic areas and cleaning. I imagine they wanted to be sure the park facilities were clean to avoid a problem with wild animals strewing trash around while no one was there to minimize the problem.

    People wonder why the parks can't be left open, but they don't realize it takes an army of employees to keep the parks clean and safe.

  6. I'm impressed over and over again, Alana, with your mature and thoughtful assessment of current events. All this lack of leadership and infighting in Washington really makes me sick, especially when (as you pointed out) people are actually being hurt from it. And I heard (I don't know if this is true) that it's actually costing the Fed Gov MORE to close all these parks down. Such a shame.

  7. How sad that it has come to this. But I congratulate the volenteers. How wonderful that they continue to help the public even without pay. That's dedication.


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