The Civil War Connections Blog

The Legacy of Memory

Hello once more, readers, and welcome to the Connections blog! Sadly, today marks my last blog posting on the theme of Civil War Memory. I shall still issue the occasional Music Monday post in the future, and perhaps a post or two in December as time permits, but I’m afraid the (somewhat) regular weekly postings by me will be no more. I have only good memories of my time here on the Connections blog, and memory is a force that dominates our past and can define our future.

I know, right?

 

In looking back on this autumn’s series on Civil War Memory, we can see that our society has grappled extensively with how to remember the Civil War – by and large, almost every segment of society had a unique and involved part to play in this conflict. Men, women, whites, blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics each experienced the war in slightly different ways, but all of them shared the hardships, deprivations and agonizing personal choices that define this moment in American history. And yet, the default stance of our modern public memory is that the Civil War “merely” freed the slaves. What about the fact that the war permanently minimized the power of individual states in favor of the central government? What about the wartime experience of women, a topic larger than my small post of Oct 11 could hope to tackle? What about the Native Americans who were validated or destroyed based on their choices in loyalty, or the Hispanics who made the same set of choices and had the same variety of experiences as their white neighbors?

The only colors I used were red, green and blue – notice how they make different colors when mixed together.

 

The memory-related blog posts you have been enjoying this autumn are meant to get each of us thinking about how much more the Civil War can tell us about our own individual history, regardless of our ethnic background or personal beliefs. We can learn so much about ourselves as a nation and as a society by examining this defining moment in our nation’s history: the moment where the America of the Revolution died, and the America of the Modern World was born. Yes, there is hardship and heartbreak, pain and suffering, and sorrow in bountiful measure: but there is also integrity, determination, honor, courage, loyalty, and perseverance. If we look inside ourselves we can find those same qualities just waiting to be embraced – and we owe it to our ancestors to make the most of them. And that means considering all the different social groups of the Civil War time period that, when fitted together, created a country as strong and as vibrant as our nation is today.

Thank you for reading, and have a good day.