Although the Civil War was one of the most important events in our country’s history, many Americans do not know a lot of the details surrounding the conflict. In particular, many Tennesseans do not realize just how big of an impact the Civil War has had on our own state’s history. As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaches, Governor Phil Bredesen has created the Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission.
Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau, is one of 20 members appointed by the Governor that make up this commission whose general purpose is to educate the public on the Civil War and what took place in Tennessee. Others on the commission include legislators, professors, and historians from across the state.
“From a tourism standpoint, Tennessee ranks second among states in terms of number of Civil War battles fought within its borders, following only Virginia. About 40 battles took place in the state, and visitors travel to sites across the state to see these battlefields and learn about our history,” said Handly. “Commemorating the Civil War is an important part of our history and heritage, and it’s truly an honor to serve on this commission to help educate and provide more understanding about the Civil War and the people who fought.”
Through various events and activities, the commission hopes that both native Tennesseans and visitors to the state can learn more about every phase of the monumental event: what led up to it, how it transpired, and what resulted, especially in Tennessee.
“The Civil War changed Tennessee and our nation forever, and it is an event in our history that ties us together,” said Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee’s Civil War National Heritage Area. “Tennessee’s Civil War National Heritage Area encompasses the entire state because Tennessee embodies the whole story of those years. I am very pleased that Herb Handly can help us make the Smokies’ and Blount County’s Civil War story an important part of the statewide effort.”