A national nonprofit and the state of Tennessee are teaming up to save the state's Civil War sites.
They plan to use money from a four-year old fund to protect 38 battlefields, as well as Underground Railroad sites. Only Virginia has more Civil War battlefields than Tennessee.
John Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust, says it's a critical time to teach people about those sites.
"We're a nation of immigrants. Immigration is a big issue today. And many of the people coming into this country don't share our culture and don't necessarily share our values," he said at an event Tuesday to promote the fund. "And if they're not taught our values and our culture, they can't be good citizens."
The Civil War Trust and state officials say real estate development is threatening many battlefields.
That's one reason Tennessee set up the Civil War Site Preservation Fund. It's accumulated more than $1 million dollars for the purpose of working with groups like the Civil War Trust and the federal government to acquire land and create interpretative parks.
Tennessee is the only state in the nation currently putting aside money for Civil War history each year. The fund receives $250,000 annually from the Tennessee Land Acquisition, as well as a portion of the real estate transfer tax.
"I can't compliment you enough," says Lighthizer. "It says to the citizens of Tennessee — in fact to the country — that this state is serious about preserving its history."
The fund expects to award $375,000 in grants to organizations that pledge to spend an equal amount of private funds to preserve Civil War sites.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which runs the state's parks, announced in November it was receiving applications for grants.