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Why We Fight May 27, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Events, Explorations.
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Yesterday I went to the National Museum of American History. In general, it was a great museum. I saw cool historical artifacts such as a Woolworth’s counter where sit-in’s had taken place during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. I also saw the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem following the successful defense of Baltimore Harbor in the war of 1812.

The exhibit I spent the most time in was one that covered the wars of the United States. This exhibit was entitled “The Price of Freedom.” I found this title interesting, though not surprising, and I also found it distasteful. Entitling the war exhibit in our nation’s main history museum “The Price of Freedom” implies that the we fought wars in order to defend or maintain our freedom, and this is blatantly untrue. This is hardly the case for any war we’ve fought in, with the possible exception of World War Two.

Granted, the sub-section inside about the war of 1898 (in which the US acquired Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines) was correctly labeled a war of expansion. I was happy to see this concession made by the historians employed by the Federal government to craft the history which the museum would teach.

All in all, the museum was great. It was well designed, with lots of cool interactive features, displays, sounds, and more. It is obviously worth visiting, and I hope to go back and spend more time there. Still, the title “The Price of Freedom” was disconcerting; the museums clear attempt to portray our war efforts by the singular goal of defending freedom irritated me. Am I just being picky, or does this seem wrong to any of you?