Wednesday, July 4, 2018

And Forever in Peace May It Wave

I was ready with a light hearted "Happy Fourth of July" post with some flowers.  If you want light hearted only, here are some flowers for you, and I'll caution you not to read any further.

Three cheers for the red...

...white...

and blue.

For those of you who remain, a Facebook friend told me (yesterday) about something trending on Twitter - a hashtag, #SecondCivilWarLetters.

I rarely blog about politics,  and I didn't mean to today, when we are supposed to be celebrating our Independence Day and remembering what the price of freedom is.  But I was intrigued and decided to read some of these tweet "letters", as I am an occasional student of the American Civil War.

During the 150th anniversary (2011-2015) I had a weekly Civil War Sunday feature - you are welcome to look it up and read my posts, if you are so inclined.  I am not a "buff", nor a historian - just someone who enjoys history.

For those who haven't heard the story of how Second Civil War Letters came to be on Twitter yesterday, a brief summary:  a man (I refuse to name or link to him) declared, on Monday, that the Democrats were going to start a Civil War today, the 4th of July, the day we in the United States celebrate as our Independence Day.

The Twitterverse quickly took revenge - people tweeting out "letters" in the style of letters written by soldiers of the first (and hopefully, only) American Civil War.  Some were literate.  Some, in fact, were pretty well done.  Some poked fun of liberals, all poked fun at the "other side" and some were just plain mean.

OK, I get it.  The Battle of Bowling Green (aka the "Bowling Green massacre"), the liberal's love of avocados and Starbucks, the dreaded covfefe.

I learned what "kek" meant.  I had just heard about the Space Force and learned more about various memes than I ever wanted to. 

But after a few too many "letters" especially one describing the (satirical) last words of a dying "alt right" soldier, I sobered up and stopped laughing, because, in fact, a second Civil War is no laughing matter.

My ancestors did not come to the United States until well after the Civil War ended.  It is in my DNA, though, as a third generation American.  I was born and raised in New York City, but I have lived parts of my life in the South - the former Confederacy - in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, to be exact.  And Kansas - once known as Bloody Kansas.  The Civil War lives on in these places.

A monument to Confederate soldiers, Charleston, South Carolina
When I lived in Arkansas, my daily commute to work involved driving through one Civil War battlefield (Prairie Grove, now an Arkansas state park) and near another one (the Battle of Cane Hill).

Some facts:
The death toll from the Civil War is hard to know, but estimates vary from 620,000 to 850,000 for military- possibly two percent of the then-population of the United States.  The 620,000 figure comes from a study done around 1889  The higher figure is more recent.

The number of "casualties" at Gettysburg - a three day battle that concluded on July 3, 1863 - dead and injured - 51,000.  That's more than the population of Binghamton, New York, where I work.

Let's not forget those taken prisoner in the war (I know someone descended from one of them).  Andersonville (South Carolina). Elmira (New York) and many other prisoner of war camps, on both sides stand as monuments of horror today, as Americans descended to depths we would hope we would never descend to again.

One hundred fifty seven years later, we still can't even agree about the causes of that war.

I fear we are heading towards a second American Civil War, as we turn against our neighbor, against our relatives, against our co-workers.  We can not seem to have any civil (no pun intended) conversation anymore.  Fake news rules.  People receive death threats on social media for expressing their opinions.

Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers can openly deny the Holocaust and be taken seriously.  They were allowed to gather near a synagogue in Charlotteville, Virginia on the Jewish Sabbath one August Saturday (the Charlottesville police having turned away the synagogue's requests for protection) hours before one of their kind allegedly rammed a car into a crowd of counterprotestors.

On this, the 242nd anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, I implore you to think twice about a second American Civil War.  Let us remember the toll of the first.  Let us remember how the trauma still lives with us today.

It's good to laugh for a few minutes.

But then, there is work to be done to make sure the Second Civil War never happens.  One of those opportunities may come soon to a community near you, and will certainly come in November.

Write your Congressperson or Senator. Subscribe to you local newspaper and read it.  Become informed.  Be respectful, always.

And then, VOTE.

Day four of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #BlogBoost

16 comments:

  1. I echo your call to vote. I also laughed at the conspiracy nut. But he got something right, we are a nation divided, and I fear where we might go.

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  2. I love the tie in to the flowers! Very clever for today.

    I am a first generation American in my family. My Dad came in on the train from Canada, and my Mom flew in from Norway.

    it is a great country, flaws and all. We are still relatively young compared to our European counterparts and we have a lot to learn and to 'grow up' still.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for visiting, and sharing.

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    2. Cheers, Guru...on at least two sides, even my White ancestors were here before 1700, and my husband drove in from Canada too.

      I think our European cousins have a lot to learn from us, a lot of bad habits to correct...but if you'd been among my relatives at this week's gathering, you'd know what I mean by saying "We *are* *all* *relatives*!"

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  3. So, here's a fact that is scary. It explains (???) why those of us in the 60s never opted to make the changes necessary. But, given the greed, sloth, and mean-spiritedness of TheDonald and his ilk...

    1787, 1861, 1941, 2018...
    Each 75 year period (give or take) involves a major war that forces our country to realign with its core principles.

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    1. I never made the connection, and it does scare me. Will we realign this time? The question hangs in cyberspace, yet unanswered.

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  4. We all have our feeling and opinion on the United States. But I still want to wish you a happy and safe 4th.
    Coffee is on

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  5. I, too, am hoping for a return to civility. Despite the flaws, when we all come together, we can do great things.

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  6. Anyone who can tweet about a 2nd Civil War had not read much about the real thing. I believe the death totals from that war are still greater than the death totals from all other wars we participated in COMBINED. No war can happened unless Congress votes for it — which means we have the power to stop it by voting as you so wisely suggest.

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  7. What beautiful flowers in red, white and blue!! Yes, we all need to vote!!

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  8. I've been enjoying the "letters". I'm choosing to take them as the satire that we so desperately need right now. It's the best way to get back at those consipiracy theorists who throw out ideas meant to make the divide greater.

    I hope we don't end up in a second Civil War. But I think this divide is a way for us to wake up and realize that things we thought we had "solved" years ago haven't been.

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  9. I received my absentee ballot the other day. What a bunch of dreadful choices on both sides. Anyway, I just sat down a little while ago to watch Ken Burns 'Civil War' series. I listen and so many things seem so similar to today. It truly scares me.

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  10. The stats on deaths and prisoners during the civil war are staggering. Thanks for pointing this out. We don't want to ever have this happen again in our country. It's ugly out there now but change is coming. I have confidence our checks and balances system will kick in and we will all work toward the common good. At least I hope so.

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  11. I agree that we need to vote and we don't need to start a civil war. Or trade wars with our neighbors. Fortunately, today, it was too hot for any kind of war. People politely handed out bottles of water and oranges.We may disagree and quarrel over politics but, fortunately, we don't want anyone to pass out from dehydration.

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    1. If this post had a "favorite" button, I'd click it on this comment.

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