From Post to Park: The Fort Monroe National Monument

By Kaylyn Sawyer ’17

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our sixth post,  Kaylyn Sawyer takes a look at the history of her park.

I was 11 years old when I made my first visit to Fort Monroe for a military ID card. This small Army post, I was told, would have a shorter line than the more familiar and populated Langley Air Force Base. Although already interested in Civil War history, I didn’t know much about the fort’s story, and I had no idea that I would return in seven years for my first history internship. Finally, I didn’t know that Fort Monroe had been targeted for closure by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC). Concerned about preserving the Fort’s historic integrity amidst calls for economic development, local citizens mobilized in collaboration with leaders across all levels of government to guide Fort Monroe’s transition from post to park.

An aerial view of Fort Monroe. Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons.
An aerial view of Fort Monroe. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Continue reading “From Post to Park: The Fort Monroe National Monument”

From Cape Hatteras to Harpers Ferry

By Alex Andrioli ’18

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our fifth post, Alex Andrioli goes back to the roots of her love for national parks and discusses how her childhood at Cape Hatteras led to an internship with the National Park Service years later.

Last summer, I was an intern at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in the Education Department as a Brian C. Pohanka Intern. I would have never thought that I would get to live in such a beautiful place. To actually work and reside in a location that is soaked in history has forever changed me because it made me realize that history majors are actually allowed to pursue other careers outside of the high school or college classroom. Harpers Ferry has given me more than just career options and historical knowledge that I can dip into if I ever end up on Jeopardy!; it has given me great friends that live all across the United States (one even lives across the Pond in England) and mentors who are more like adopted parents. However, even though Harpers Ferry has started to help me pave the way to my future career, there is one park that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore and I go way back. Technically, the first time that I went was when my mom was pregnant with me in 1995, but the first pictures of me out and about of the womb are from 1996 when I was a few months old. My earliest memories in life are of Cape Hatteras. For most of my life, my family has gone to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for summer vacation. Towards the end of the school year when most kids were looking forward to typical summertime activities, I was anxiously awaiting the annual trip to that thin strip of islands clinging to the mainland of North Carolina. This is not to say that I wasn’t also looking forward to cliche summer pastimes, but there was nothing like the preparation for the long journey south. Usually, the excitement became surreal for me the week before our departure. The kitchen would be crowded with extra groceries, suitcases would be lying around just waiting to be stuffed with clothes, and the night before felt like an eternity.

The author and her aunt at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, October 1997. Courtesy of the Andrioli Archives, a.k.a. the author's mother, April Andrioli.
The author and her aunt at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, October 1997. Courtesy of the Andrioli Archives, a.k.a. the author’s mother, April Andrioli.

Continue reading “From Cape Hatteras to Harpers Ferry”

Flight 93 National Memorial: A Park Dedicated to Strength from Tragedy

By Savannah Rose ’17

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our fourth post, Savannah talks about the emotional experience of visiting Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.

The story of 9/11 will be forever ingrained in the history of America. On September 11, 2001, al-Queda terrorists hijacked American planes, flying them into national symbols including the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. However, many people often forget that there was a fourth plane heading toward the nation’s capital that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the thirty-three passengers and seven crew members tried to regain control of the flight. In the frenzied attack to stop the plane from hitting its intended target, the passengers sacrificed their lives to thwart terrorism and fear. Immediately following the crash, a temporary memorial was created as government officials scrambled to find and remove pieces of the disintegrated plane. In 2002, the land was designated as a National Memorial by the United States government; it was the beginning of the Flight 93 National Memorial Site, the only National Park Service site dedicated to the events of the 9/11 attacks. In the years following, the Flight 93 National Memorial was created, allowing the American public to visit the site of the thwarted attack and remember the brave passengers of United Airline Flight 93.

My best friend from high school attends college in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, so I take Route 30 from Gettysburg to visit her. Every time I visited, I saw the brown sign noting the Flight 93 National Memorial, just off the highway. Because I always wanted to reach my destination, I never stopped but always swore I would next time. I finally decided to make the stop, though I didn’t know what to expect, as I was not knowledgeable about Flight 93. A three mile long winding road took me from Route 30 to the Visitors Center, giving me a sense of uncertainty as I longed to find an end around each turn but only found more road surrounded by empty field. I arrived at the Visitor Center, taking a black walkway from the parking lot, but initially passed the doors to the exhibits to follow the walkway to an overlook. The walkway followed the flight path of Flight 93, leading me to a view of the crash site. Before seeing the exhibits or grabbing the pamphlets, I was face-to-face with the impact site and the mass grave of forty people; a landscape that was once an ordinary field in Pennsylvania was transformed into a field of honor.

The walkway leads to this overlook looking toward the crash site, declaring that this landscape, once an ordinary field, is now a field of honor. Photo courtesy of author.
The walkway leads to this overlook looking toward the crash site, declaring that this landscape, once an ordinary field, is now a field of honor. Photo courtesy of author.

Continue reading “Flight 93 National Memorial: A Park Dedicated to Strength from Tragedy”

A Summer by the Graveyard: Living and Working at Andersonville

By Elizabeth Smith ’17

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our third post, Elizabeth Smith reflects on her time as an intern at Andersonville National Historic Site and the personal element of history. 

As a first-year student back in 2013 I was given the opportunity to work as a Pohanka Intern at Andersonville National Historic Site. During the American Civil War, Andersonville—or Camp Sumter, as it was officially called—was perhaps the most infamous prison camp, and today it remains the best known. Though it was only open for fourteen months between 1864 and 1865, 45,000 Union soldiers were  imprisoned there, 12,920 of whom would be buried just a quarter of a mile away from the stockade that took their lives.

While working as a Pohanka intern I lived on-site in a small studio apartment a few hundred yards back from the old stockade and a quarter of a mile away from the cemetery. Today, the cemetery is the final resting place for nearly 20,000 veterans and their spouses. There is something unique and, to be quite honest, creepy when you are the only living person on the entire site. To walk the perimeter of the stockade as the sun goes down, knowing that only you are standing in the exact spot where 45,000 men suffered, and to be able to soak in the atmosphere is an incredibly moving experience.

The author as an intern at Andersonville National Historic Site in the summer of 2013. Photo courtesy of Pamela Smith.
The author as an intern at Andersonville National Historic Site in the summer of 2013. Photo courtesy of Pamela Smith.

Continue reading “A Summer by the Graveyard: Living and Working at Andersonville”

Find Your Park Friday: For the Love of Nature

By Jeff Lauck ’18

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our second post, Jeff Lauck discusses his passion for photography and the park that started it. 

Anyone who follows me on any social media will soon learn that I love to travel almost as much as I love taking pictures of the places I visit. From Chula Vista, California to Quoddy Head, Maine; Ramallah in the West Bank to the DMZ in Korea, I have been to many places in my less than 20 years of existence. Yet nothing has left more of an impression on me nor fueled my wanderlust as much as the natural beauty of America’s national parks. They are, indeed, “the best idea we ever had,” according to writer Wallace Stegner.

The author and his father at Glacier Point, overlooking Half Dome, during the author's first visit to Yosemite. Photo courtesy of Doreen Lauck.
The author and his father at Glacier Point, overlooking Half Dome, during the author’s first visit to Yosemite. Photo courtesy of Doreen Lauck.

My love of national parks began at a very young age. Lauck family vacations have always entailed some cross-country trek in the family minivan, stopping in small towns off the interstate to pitch up the tent while traveling thousands of miles from home. When I tell my friends tales of these legendary road trips, they marvel at how we kept our sanity while being cooped up in a car for 14 hours a day as we racked up miles on the odometer. While these trips were, admittedly, filled with temper tantrums and wrestling matches, the destinations–landscapes of mountains, valleys, beaches, canyons, and deserts– have made these trials all the more rewarding. Continue reading “Find Your Park Friday: For the Love of Nature”

Find Your Park Friday: Meg and Megan Take Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP

By Meg Sutter ’16 and Megan McNish ’16

The Civil War Institute will be celebrating the National Park Service Centennial this spring with its brand new “Find Your Park Friday” series. Inspired by the NPS #FindYourPark campaign, the series will challenge our fellows to share their experiences exploring America’s national historical, cultural, and natural resources through trips and internships with the NPS. In our first post, CWI Social Media Coordinators Meg and Megan discuss their time interning at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. 

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How long did you spend at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and what did you do while you were there?

Megan: I’ve spent two summers at Fredericksburg; the first summer I was a Pohanka Intern and the second summer I was able to return as a seasonal employee. I’ve worked at almost all the sites in the park in my two summers there. I’ve given tours at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and the Wilderness. I’ve also spent time at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine and Chatham doing informal interpretation.

Meg: I was a Pohanka Intern at FredSpot from May 2014 to August 2014. I gave interpretive programs at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center and the Spotsylvania Exhibit Shelter and led tours daily. On the weekends I led the Children’s Program with a fellow intern. We led four different programs including a cemetery program, a soldier’s life program, a flags-and-signals program, and a regular Junior Ranger program which alternated each weekend. Continue reading “Find Your Park Friday: Meg and Megan Take Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP”