The Gettysburg Foundation participated this week in the Big History Project (BHP), bringing Gettysburg’s powerful lessons of civility, inclusion, and healing to thousands of middle-school and high-school teachers around the world.
BHP is co-founded by Bill Gates and Dr. David Christian and “is a joint effort between teachers, scholars, scientists, and their supporters. It is a multi-disciplinary approach to knowledge for learners around the world. In addition to developing a full curriculum for high school students, this course is designed for curious members of the public who are seeking answers to big questions about the history of our Universe and the origin of our species.”
Gettysburg Foundation president, Dr. Matthew Moen, authored a blog for Big History entitled: "Bloodshed at Gettysburg: Why Does Civility Matter, Anyway?" It focused on what occurred immediately after the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, as local citizens began to care for the wounded. It outlines the broad pattern of healing that occurred over the next 155 years at Gettysburg, including the creation of a tent hospital called Camp Letterman; Quaker nurses streaming into town to tend to the injured; President Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address; visits by thirteen other presidents of the United States to Gettysburg to speak of conciliation; reunions of Civil War veterans; and the dedication by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial that still burns brightly on the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park.
The blog was released to BHP teachers on July 20 and several members of the Gettysburg Foundation participated in a three-day Online Exchange where teachers had the opportunity to interact, ask questions, and learn more about Gettysburg’s broader narrative. Angelina Kreger, Big History Project Outreach Coordinator, was pleased with the success of the Exchange stating, “We learned a lot and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the correlations between a profound moment in U.S. History and Big History.”
“We would like to thank the BHP for this opportunity to interact with educators and to discuss one part of the powerful Gettysburg story that is less examined than the battle,” stated Dr. Moen. “The battle and the related civil rights struggle of the Civil War will always be the signature storyline here, of course, but there are many other dimensions to Gettysburg such as healing that are worth discussing in the days ahead.”