Sunday, July 3, 2016

One Hundred Fifty Five Years Later

Tomorrow, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the bicentennial of my country, the United States.

Back in 2014, when I first posted this, we were commemorating the 153rd anniversary of our Civil War, which was fought April 1861-April, 1865 (officially, anyway).  Before that war, our citizens tended to think of themselves as citizens of their town, their state - and, perhaps almost as an afterthought, the United States. 

During the war, we did unspeakable things to each other.

But four years, and over 620,000 casualties, later, we ended up thinking of ourselves in a whole different way.

Now, our country has entered another rough patch with our people torn apart, frustrated at our elected officials and our economy, and wondering who will lead us out of our current difficulties in this Presidential election year.

It would be a good thing to step back for a moment and think of the following I first posted in 2014.

Civil War Sunday - 153 Years Later

Yesterday, April 12, 2014, marked the 153rd anniversary of the start of the United States Civil War, as Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter on an island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

I was in Charleston this past week, and the car trip down from my home in upstate New York was a fascinating experience.  It gave me a lot of time to think.
Gettysburg, PA - the site of perhaps the most famous Civil War battle
On the way, we passed exits for a number of Civil War battlefields and related sites, starting in Pennsylvania.
Spring still hadn't reached Gettysburg as my spouse and I passed near to a site where 51,000 people had been either killed, wounded, or captured in the battle that represented the Confederacy's greatest northward penetration into the Union.
Moving into Maryland, we passed near Andrews Air Force Base.  When we passed from Pennsylvania (a free state) into Maryland (a slave state that stayed with the Union), we had also crossed the historic Mason-Dixon line.
Then we crossed from Maryland into Virginia over the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Such a simple act, but in 1861, if the bridge had been there, Virginia certainly wouldn't have been welcoming a couple of Yankees.  This was the border between the Union and the Confederacy.  In fact, a small portion of the bridge is technically in our capital, Washington, DC.

I didn't take any pictures of road signs at that point, but there were several road signs which had both Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia listed on the same sign.  So simple - two cities, some 106 miles apart. But, during the Civil War, they were the capitals of two countries at war with each other.
Fredericksburg - near to four major Civil War battles, two of which will be commemorating 150th anniversaries next month.  Now, a city connected to other cities, north and south, via Interstate 95.

How many people give thought to history when they travel this road daily?  Things could have been so different if history had worked differently.  We can play the "what if" game - some people who enjoy something called "alternate history" do that and write some pretty interesting books based on "what if".
This photo was taken from the Ravenel Bridge that connects Charleston, South Carolina with another South Carolina City, Mt. Pleasant.  Permanently docked in Mt. Pleasant, and now a museum, is the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, in a living museum called Patriot's Point.

If you look behind the green area to the left of this aircraft carrier which proudly flies the flag of the United States, you will see a distant, small island.  On this island sits Fort Sumter.

This is what the view of Charleston Harbor looked like after sunset on April 12, yesterday evening the 153rd anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

Today, so peaceful.

We must not let ourselves be torn apart.

We survived the Civil War.  We can survive this, too.


  1. Beautiful clicks and nice description. You're right about people not thinking of historical significance of places while travelling. It must be a different experience altogether. And yes, we can survive anything I guess 😉

  2. I certainly hope we will survive this without doing more unspeakable things to each other. Too many unspeakable things are happening already. I saw a painting today in an art gallery of George Washington with tears running down his face. Thank you for this reminder that we can and must remain civil to each other even when we disagree.

  3. I love all the photos you choose for your very informative history blog. We live about 100 miles from Charleston, it's such a beautiful city.

  4. As they say , if we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Great post! Happy 4th!!

  5. It must be cool to be able to drive amongst such historic sites. We don't have much history like that around here.

  6. Great pictures and thank you for sharing the history. As students, we had a course in World History and if I am not wrong Civil War was a part of that. But now, I hardly remember. You are right. This too shall pass.


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