A remark I over-heard , and I may not have this exact, from one of the rangers during the recent Spotsylvania 150th events- “Fifty years from now, many will be in awe of what we did in the sesquicentennial.” That sums it up better than I could in a thousand blog posts.
And the National Park Service is not just content to play out the sesquicentennial at places like Kennesaw Mountain, Cold Harbor, Petetersburg, and Appomattox, where the major events took place in 1864-5. This Memorial Day, the park service offers a special program called Reverberations which looks beyond the battlefields with the sesquicentennial theme in mind:
On Memorial Day weekend 2014, the National Park Service will join with a few representative communities across America to remember the struggle of those days of 1864. We will remember not just on the battlefields themselves, but in the communities that received the doleful news of that spring. The struggle of everyday Americans against loss, deprivation, and discouragement helped determine that fate of our Nation in 1864. The Reverberations program will once again reconnect American communities to the fields where their sons often gave all, and recognize a great and oft-forgotten struggle touched with both virtue and pain.
An example of the program, Fort Moultrie outside Charleston hosts programs focused on the South Carolina participation in the Overland Campaign:
The programs at Fort Moultrie will honor the 39 infantry, artillery, and cavalry units from South Carolina that fought in the Overland Campaign. From May to June 1864, the major battles include the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Yellow Tavern, Cold Harbor, to beginning of the Siege of Petersburg, plus other combat actions. Almost 100,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured in five weeks.
Other parks and communities across the country are participating in the event. Look under the Richmond NPB, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania, and Petersburg pages for more details and videos. And if you can’t attend, I hear they will be live streaming some of these.