Editorial: Preserving memories of a people’s history
Mar 05, 2014 | 634 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Area residents clinging to family heirlooms that have been handed down from generation to generation since the years of the American Civil War have a chance to help preserve history.

As recently announced by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, representatives from the Tennessee State Library and Archives will be in Cleveland for two days next week recording and digitizing Civil War memorabilia owned by local folks, as well as those from surrounding areas.

The state archivists will set up at the Museum Center at Five Points.

On Tuesday, March 11, they will be available to the public from 2 to 6 p.m., and on Wednesday, March 12, archivists will receive historic information and memorabilia from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It is important to point out state historians will not keep what area residents bring to them. Instead, they will either scan or take digital photographs of the materials, some of which will be featured in a coming exhibit titled, “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee.”

Archivists are searching for original photographs, documents and other artifacts associated with the Civil War.

The online exhibit of the collected memorabilia will be available at the Tennessee 150th Commemorative website at www.tncivilwar.tsla@tn.gov.

For area residents who have limited time on these dates, but who have a plethora of memorabilia they would like to share with the archivists, and subsequently other Civil War enthusiasts, reservations can be made for some time during the two-day visit.

To make a reservation for next Tuesday or Wednesday, call 615-741-1883 or send an email to civilwar.tsla@tn.gov. Reservation forms can be found at www.tn.gov/cwtn/cwtmevents.htm.

Hargett is hopeful area residents will respond, whether through reservations or by dropping in on the archivists next week.

Surely, humanitarian conditions leading up to the start of the Civil War were deplorable at best. If ever there was a time in American history that is probably best forgotten, it is that volatile period. Yet, by the same token it served as a time of reckoning for a fledgling nation whose growing pains would endure another century, and well beyond, of trials and tribulations that tested the moral fabric of a split government and a divided people.

Remembering the Civil War isn’t a testament to the pride of a Southern heritage nor to the will of its Northern brethren to keep a country intact. Instead, it is a reflection on where America has been and a painful lesson learned on why, and how not, to revisit such tragedy.

In Hargett’s words, “This is an important project for TSLA. The Civil War was a major event in our state’s history, so we need to take appropriate steps to make sure these treasures are properly preserved for future generations.”

Those who respond to the TSLA request to turn out next Tuesday and Wednesday for the museum event, and who submit memorabilia, will receive copies of the digital photographs and helpful tips on how to preserve their Civil War items.

And remember, archivists will not take possession of memorabilia. Their mission simply is to document photographically and digitally for the benefit of others.

Researchers who visit the online exhibit at www.tncivilwar150.org will be doing so for a thousand or more reasons. Cleveland and Bradley County residents who make available their memorabilia next week will be doing so for the good of a whole, and for the preservation of history — whether its memories are good or bad.

To forget the past is wrong.

To benefit from its lessons learned is right.

And to use that learning to prevent tragic repeats into our future is an act that best defines the good in humanity.