150 years in the making and now coming to a southern state near you, I give you the American Civil War. It has always seemed to me that descendents of the southern cause have never really come to peace with having lost the Civil War. Members of this constituency are always reenacting famous battles, holding long, somewhat one-sided conversations, with Confederate ghosts or simply whooping and hollering whenever any Rebel football team gives their Yankee opponents a good drubbing. The southern enthusiasm for this remembrance is almost never reciprocated by their northern brethren, at least not to the same extent. This is why today, on the sesquicentennial anniversary of the assault on Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War, most northern communities are just going about their daily business, like they would on any other Tuesday. Meanwhile, southern enthusiasts are gearing up for four years of this business.
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
The down economy has muted some of this celebratory remembrance. Cities and States can’t afford to do things up right. Low key events, augmented with private donations will have to suffice. Easy access to almost all of the major battlefields gives the Confederate cause a substantial edge. It may not have seem so advantageous, 150 years ago, but this home field advantage will make all the difference over the course of this sesquicentennial. There are plenty of Union generals commemorated throughout the north, and Illinois has Abraham Lincoln, but almost all the rest belongs down south, Manassas, Shiloh and Appomattox.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
I have been glib here about this subject, maybe too glib. The Civil War was a terrible time for this country, so terrible that it almost destroyed our nation, splitting it in two. While the next four years will bring many speeches, picnics and barbeques, let not this light fare obscure the heavy-hearted reality of what occurred. More Americans died in that war than in all of our others, combined. I think that the words that Lincoln once spoke and many a school child has memorized, strikes the right tone, and serves as the best remembrance still.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
The rest of today’s post is devoted to the fruits of Chris’s camera. Sunday night, he attended a class taught by Trey Ratcliff on HDR photography.
Photographs by Chris: Trey Ratcliff, above, led a walking tour of Monterey Harbor. Chris took the above picture of Mr. Ratcliff and the following picture of the harbor. Chris has more pictures, they will be featured later this week.