This was a fascinating discussion and the questions from the audience shed light on even more possible ways to look at the war and more audiences to reach out to. Most intriguing, someone asked about the possibility of reaching out to new immigrants to the United States and how to make this “their story” as well. These panels and the discussions that result from them show the conscious effort that many historic sites and museums are making to include the voices and experiences of all who were affected by the war: black, white, men, women and children. In addition, there is an effort to reach all Americans through commemoration activities, making it clear that the Civil War and its legacy is relevant to all Americans.
One area that is less discussed and was not covered by the panel was commemoration in places that are not traditionally associated with the war, such as the West. While places like California played a significant role in the lead up to the war and raised money and troops for the war, it is generally forgotten in narratives of the war. Part of this of course, does have to do with the fact that it is so geographically removed from the battlefields. Those of us in the West should make an effort to ensure that our role in the war is not forgotten. Hopefully as commemoration events begin this weekend, the war will be remembered as a truly national event.