I urge you to read Viola O. Baskerville's excellent editorial on Virginia's Civil War Sesquicentennial which recently appeared in Richmond.com. Because Ms. Baskerville serves on a Workgroup for the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission I got to read and comment on an early draft. I couldn't be more pleased with the final version as she gives all of us some important questions to think about.
We do not need to revisit and expand our understanding of the many
bloody battles that occurred in that war — a number of which were
waged right here in Virginia. We must step away from the absorbing,
intricate details of military strategy to do a proper accounting of how
that unique war impacted our nation. We must ask: Why did our nation
sacrifice so much blood and treasure in waging a civil war? Historians will disagree on the war's most important legacies. But, surely these three are among the most significant:
1. The end of slavery
2. The preservation of our Union
3. The birth of a historic struggle for civil rights and racial reconciliation.
We accomplished the first two when the war ended. The third,
however, took just short of 100 years before landmark Supreme Court
decisions and new government statutes produced partial fulfillment. So,
now, as we prepare to mark the war's sesquicentennial anniversary, we
must not forget that the war's final chapters are yet to be written.