July 4, 2016

The Importance of Remembering History

I write historical fiction. And thus far the two eras I've set novels in have been the Great Depression and the Civil War. The latter of which is nearest and dearest to my heart and forever will be. The four years the United States was at war within itself were heartrending times, but it made our nation stronger. The legacy of the men and women who both survived and gave up their last measure of devotion in defense of the Union and Confederate causes will live on forever. But only if people keep writing about it. Yes there are history textbooks that give a short glimpse into four of the most crucial years in America's relatively short history. Yes not everyone will be into history. But we must know history well enough both to learn from it, and to honor a cornerstone in the building of this nation. The United States is an imperfect nation and some might say going to hell in a hand basket nowadays. What's funny is that similar sentiments echo through out so much of history, just applied to the "hot button" issues of the times. This is a very different, fast moving world than when the War Between the States' three most crucial days were being fought 153 years ago this weekend.
Let us never forget the sacrifice of so many, both from the North and South, that made this land into what it is today. And so, on this holiday weekend where we remember mainly the signing of the Declaration of Independence with fireworks, red white and blue everything, barbecues and family traditions--let us remember the soldiers, the families, the desecrated town and farmland of Gettysburg that was cleansed by rain as the armies retreated on July 4th, 1863. Leaving behind land and lives that would rise and thrive again.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced...
~ Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19 1863