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Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Small and Forgotten

Some National Park System sites are huge (Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska is over 13 million acres – twice as big as my home state of Massachusetts). Some are tiny, such as the African-American Civil War Memorial, nestled in a small plot at the intersection of Vermont, 10th, & U St. in Washington, D.C. All NPS sites can tell you a lot, however, if you only chose to listen.

African-American Civil War Memorial — © 2008 America In ContextI wanted to post an essay about the courage of black soldiers during the Civil War; about their bravery, their sacrifice, and the difficulties they faced. There is so much to tell, so much the average American doesn’t know. But I find myself distracted with more immediate concerns.

In preparation for this post, I wanted to read up on the history of the memorial. So I visited the National Park Service’s site, www.nps.gov. And wouldn’t you know it, they have basically no valuable information about this memorial whatsoever!

This really troubles me. I know the AACWM is not tops on visitors’ “must see” list. There’s no way it can compete with the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, or the Smithsonian. But the role of the National Park Service is not one of tour guide, they are both a protector and a promoter of America’s natural, historical, and cultural treasures. Regardless of how small it is, the AACWM is one of those treasures, a monument to those who risked it all to free their own kinsmen from bondage. Their story is as important as the story of George Mason, whose own little monument has its own page on the NPS site.

The Park Service does a grave injustice by excluding this memorial. One cannot understand America without understanding black America. The history of black America is our history, it’s American history.  It’s not just some esoteric subject studied by 15% of the nation. And it really bothers me that the African-American Civil War Memorial gets such short-shrift from the National Park Service.

I urge visitors to Washington to take a half-hour out of their schedule and take the Green Line to U Street. It’s only a block east from there. Take a little more time and visit the nearby museum as well. Yes, it’s not the best area of the city, but that’s part of the American experience, too.

Faces — © 2008 America In Context

[All photos on this entry are originals by the blog owner.]

Links:

Sadly, there is no link to the National Park Service for this memorial.

African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum

Google map to the AACWM

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