In the following commentary published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, David Blight reflects on the first major event of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which took place in Richmond, Virginia back in March. Blight comments on the purpose and significance of the day-long symposium and how it reflects a fundamental change with the way the war was remembered during the Civil War Centennial (1961-65). The final paragraph caught my eye:
Legacies can take endless forms — physical, political, literary, emotional. This time, we must commemorate our Civil War in all its meanings, but above all we must commemorate and understand emancipation as its most enduring challenge. This time, the fighting of the Civil War itself should not unite us in pathos and nostalgia alone; but maybe, just maybe, we will give ourselves the chance to find unity in a shared history of conflict, in a genuine sense of tragedy, and in a conflicted memory stared squarely in the face.
[Check out Blight’s Online Civil War/Reconstruction course at Yale.]