A Taste of Sunday

On Wednesday Clint Schemmer, of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, interviewed me about my upcoming talk on Sunday. I did my best to give him a taste of some of the themes that I will touch on even as I continue to write and edit. Although the assignment has been a challenge, I am looking forward to the ceremony. I am also looking forward to meeting many of you who have written to say that you will be in attendance. Here is an excerpt from today’s article that focuses on our interview. For those of you who will not be able to make the event, or who have chosen to go elsewhere that day, I will post my talk on Sunday for your consideration

During the keynote address, Charlottesville resident Kevin Levin, editor of the popular blog Civil War Memory, said he will “try to push the envelope a bit.” He does the same during tours of Fredericksburg with his high school students. “To visit a battlefield is a chance to look at causes, consequences and bigger meanings.”

“Visiting a battlefield should not be easy,” Levin said. “When we go to these places, it’s up to us, as Americans, to try and make those connections and try to understand why this happened–that for four years, Americans killed one another. We have an obligation to try to understand it, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable, to deal with issues like race, like slavery, or Jim Crow.” He noted that the Battle of Fredericksburg occurred a few weeks before President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, something that many of the men who fought at Fredericksburg were keenly aware of.

“I won’t be talking about anything the soldiers weren’t themselves talking about,” he said. “This discussion that people today have–about what is the proper scope of battlefield interpretation–is a debate more about ourselves than the history itself.” America’s Civil War magazine has lauded Levin’s writing for its “humanistic insight and scholarly precision.” History News Network recognized it with its 2007 Cliopatria Award for Best Individual Blog. Levin teaches American history at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, and writes and lectures extensively on the war.

3 comments… add one

  • Logan Spangler Dec 12, 2008

    Mr. Levin,

    I wish we had class today because I was wondering where you were with your speech. I also had some thoughts and input. So how is it–how are you going to direct it? From reading this it sounds like you are leaning towards being bold and also delivering the facts. I especially like where you said, “We have an obligation to understand it(Americans killing Americans), even if it makes us feel uncomfortable–>(great word to use here), to deal with issues like race slavery, or Jim Crow.”

    • Kevin Levin Dec 12, 2008

      Hi Logan, — Thanks for the comments. I am at this very moment trying to bring the talk to a close. Admittedly, it hasn’t been easy. On the one hand I want to discuss what I do with my classes while maintaining the focus on the act of commemoration which is what this event is all about. I would like to think that I am striking the right chord, but we will have to see. You will have a chance to read it in class on Monday, but if you want a preview check back here around 2pm on Sunday. Enjoy your weekend. You seem to be enjoying the class, and I appreciate your enthusiasm.

      • Logan Spangler Dec 12, 2008

        Well, best of luck with your speech. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I have enjoyed your class so far. It’s not hard to manage and I like how engaging it is with class discussion. I’m highlighting key words/phrases in the chapter in Blight for the essay, which I intend to be a good one. Thank you and happy commemorating.

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