The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published an article on preparations for the Civil War Sesquicentennial. It’s a nice overview of some of the major players and offers a few references to ongoing projects. Rick Beard, formerly of the Atlanta History Center and now director of the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield, is interviewed. He seems to think that a federal commission is necessary:
Beard, however, insists a federal commission is needed to help pull together common themes for marking a war that still marks the country today. "If it’s done right, it will be the opportunity for a lot of interesting national conversations," said Beard. "This is a chance to do it right."
Unfortunately, Beard doesn’t explain why it is necessary. I’ve said before that I find it impossible to imagine a federal commission that is not hampered from day-1 by politics and pandering to organizations that are interested more in celebration rather than commemoration. Even if a federal commission is organized it is safe to say that most of the activities will be organized on the state and local levels. Beard seems to forget that this was also true for the Centennial observances.