Friday, July 3, 2015

A Glorious Fourth

 Old Times Not Forgotten
Who won the war? The Union Army obviously won the war... [but] if we're not just talking about the series of battles which finished with the surrender at Appomattox ; but talking instead about the struggle to make something higher and better out of the country -- then the question gets complicated: The slaves won the war, but they lost the war. Because they won 'freedom' -- that is, the removal of slavery -- but they did not win 'freedom' as they understood freedom.

I think what we need to remember most of all is that the Civil War is not over until we, today, have done our part in fighting it... William Faulkner said once that, "History is not was; it's is" -- and what we need to remember is that the Civil War is in the present, not just the past.

The generation that fought the war... also established a standard that will not mean anything until we have finished the work. You can say, "There's no more slavery any longer; we're all citizens." But if we're all citizens -- then we have a task to do to make sure that, too, is not a joke. If some citizens live in houses, and others live on the street, the Civil War is still to be fought -- and regrettably, it can still be lost.

Barbara J. Fields, Historian
In Ken Burns' Documentary, The Civil War, 1990
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