History… An interesting animal, but one that we run from.

I’ve always been a firm adherent of the oft quoted statement originally voiced by the philosopher George Santayana who declared:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

History is a necessary topic that is consistently ignored, often at our own detriment. As a result we find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of historical repetition, scratching our collective heads at the déjà vu that is a result of our intellectual laziness.

I would like to do a deep dive into the intricacies of history that holds me as a captive audience, but my past is replete with images of people and their eyes glazed over with undisguised disinterest at my historical ramblings; that being said, I will refrain from any long winded discourse.

But I will say this…

One of the most fascinating periods of American History for me is the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed… What couldn’t be more fascinating than a drama that pitted brother against brother and a reckoning of a glaring contradiction that ran counter to one of the seminal documents of the Republic?

I often saunter through many of the pivotal battlegrounds of the Civil War entranced at the history that transpired there more than 150 some years ago…

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Wondering about the opportunities that weren’t fully capitalized on.

Interestingly enough one of the most violent periods of American history was followed by one of the progressive periods, which unfortunately fell apart due to a lack of commitment to the greater good.

The greatest irony of the Civil War is one that I find the most fascinating…

Me taking in some Civil War history outside of the Old Courthouse Museum in Winchester, Va
Me getting my Civil War history fix outside of the Old Courthouse Museum in Winchester, Va

The number of monuments honoring those who drew arms against their country considering that they were regarded as traitors by their contemporaries, is interesting at best as history places them in the pantheon of heroes.

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Lee & Jackson Monument in Baltimore, Maryland

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It is always an exercise in head scratching when I travel down a road, or encounter a historical marker that waxes poetically about these valiant souls who died for “what they believed in” leaving me to wonder if it is honor to be had in being on the wrong side of history?

Or could is this indicative of how atrophied our historical muscles have become?

I think Ulysses S. Grant said it best when reflecting on the surrender at Appomattox:

“I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

3 thoughts on “History… An interesting animal, but one that we run from.

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