In Memphis, Tennessee, we (Tyler and Kelly) had the opportunity to go to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum has many rooms of interesting displays and loads of information. But, what is really special about this museum is something less tangible. Because the museum incorporates the historic Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, it is easy to let your imagination transport you back to that time. We felt somehow closer to the movement that he and so many others led to make an extremely important change in this country. It helped us to reflect on how much he was able to accomplish in his life, and we wonder how much more he would have been able to do had he lived longer than 39 years. We were glad that the museum also covered many other groups and individuals who were essential to the success of the Civil Rights Movement. It is hard to imagine that this episode in history is not far away – geographically or historically. We must never forget the past as we work in our country for the future of freedom and equal rights for all.
To learn more about the mission and history of the National Civil Rights Museum, you can use these links: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/tn2.htm and http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/?page_id=92 You will also find much more information about Dr. King and his legacy on thousands of websites.
The day after we had learned so much at the National Civil Rights Museum, we visited the Battle of Shiloh National Military Park, which is located in southwestern Tennessee . The Battle of Shiloh was a dramatic two day battle. At the close of the first day of battle, the Confederates were on the brink of victory. Then, with the loss of General Albert Sidney Johnston and the bolstering of the Union troops overnight, the tables turned. April 7th, 1862, the second and final day of the Battle of Shiloh, brought future 18th President, General Ulysses S. Grant, and his men a Union victory. The quiet natural beauty of the park and the simple plaques commemorating service men and women provided us a peaceful space to reflect on all the lives sacrificed for our country in the past and still today.
You can read more about the interesting history of the Battle of Shiloh here: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shiloh.html
It’s an amazing opportunity, as we travel across the United States to stop at places like the National Civil Rights Museum and the Battle of Shiloh National Military Park. What diverse and rich history there is to learn and remember in our country!