September 25, 2012

Alexandra Petri evoked powerful images in her description of the Battle of Antietam and its important role in the Civil War and in U.S. history [“In Antietam, 150 years later, history feels uncomfortably close,” op-ed, Sept. 22]. But visiting Civil War hallowed ground needn’t be “largely an act of private devotion.” 

In addition to tours led by knowledgable members of the National Park Service staff, the Washington area’s six Civil War Round Tables frequently offer day trips to nearby battlefields. The members’ enthusiasm for preservation and for showing “who fell where and how and why” is readily shared with anyone who comes along. 

Also, Ms. Petri stated that universities are shedding their military history departments. That may be, but no fewer than nine area colleges and universities have courses devoted to the Civil War and Reconstruction, most of them taught by professors who specialize in the period. The sesquicentennial commemoration of the war is a good time to honor the millions whose sacrifice changed this nation forever.

Gordon Berg, Greenbelt

The writer is a member and past president of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia and a member of the board of the Alliance for the Preservation of the Civil War Defenses of Washington.