In this day and age, with so much information coming at us 24 hours a day, it’s easy to get stuck in the present while forgetting about the past. So much time is spent checking emails, texts, tweets and other updates from family, friends and co-workers that it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t so connected. But history has a way of reminding us how far we’ve come, which is why preserving and honoring the past is so vital.

This year marks the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and a time to reflect on one of the pivotal moments in U.S. history. The battlefields on which the war was fought are an important part of this history. Most of these them are still around today but are sitting unprotected and in danger of development. According to the Civil War Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the battlefields and educating the public on their historical value, only 20% of this land is currently being preserved.

If you’d like to brush up on your Civil War knowledge, try visiting one of many cities that were involved in the Civil War and staying at an inn located on or near a battlefield. Inns across the country, including some that aren’t located on or near a battlefield, are offering Civil War reenactments and themed specials to commemorate the Sesquicentennial and joining the efforts to preserve these treasured lands for generations to come. You could tour the battlefields, watch historical reenactments, taste 1860s-inspired meals and support efforts to save the battlefields all at the same time!

Sharpsburg, MD, was the site of The Battle of Antietam, a major confrontation.  The Inn at Antietam is located right on the battlefield, which is now a national park. You could visit the Antietam National Cemetery as well as Pry House Field Hospital Museum. This museum is located in the historic Pry House which served as Union Commander General George B. McClellan’s headquarters during the battle and a place to stay for many important visitors during the war, including President Lincoln himself.

Another pivotal location in the Civil War was Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC. Known as the place where the war began, Charleston has much to offer the Civil War history fanatic. Fort Sumter, now regarded as a national park, features a stunning monument that is open to the public year round. Visitors also have the option of taking a boat tour around the Island Fort, complete with narration by Fort Sumter historians. After you’ve had your fill of history, soak in some of the Charleston culture and stroll the same streets the Civil War soldiers walked on so many years ago.

No matter what your age, the Civil War Sesquicentennial is a perfect time to reflect on an important piece of U.S. history. You could grab a getaway to a Civil War city to learn about the historic war and pay homage to those who came before while also helping protect the battlefields. This way we can ensure these important pieces of history will be around for many years to come.

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