Category Archives: Current Affairs

“The Plantation Called New York City”

Here is Sanitation Department chaplain, Reverend Fred Lucas’s invocation at New York City Mayor de Blasio’s inauguration on January 1. I honestly don’t know what I think of it. Most of the commentary that I’ve read gives me very little to think about, though I did find Greg Downs’s opinion piece to be helpful. May use it as part of my Civil War Memory class, which I am teaching this semester.

The Next President of the College of Charleston?

McConnell, Confederate reenactor

Photo taken at the 2010 meeting of the National Federation of Republican Women in Charleston, SC.

Update: Interesting story on the pressure that is being exerted by McConnell’s allies on College of Charleston.

The College of Charleston is looking for a new president and a number of state legislators are pushing the school to consider Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. The question raised in this article is whether his involvement with Confederate heritage groups and support of the Confederate flag reflects the school’s values and commitment to diversity. McConnell has to apply for the position by Jan. 14, but if he does the outcome of his candidacy will tell us a great deal about the state of Confederate heritage in South Carolina politics and culture. Continue reading

“That These Dead Shall Not Have Died in Vain”

We would do well to remember that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered at the height of a civil war, whose outcome was far from decided. I am reminded of this after having read Carole Emberton’s thoughtful editorial in The Morning News:

Although Lincoln’s prose is magisterial, its might depended in no small part on the ability of the Union Army to achieve battlefield victories in 1864 and 1865. In this case, the pen was only as powerful as the sword.

Lincoln issued a rallying cry on the Gettysburg battlefield in November 1863:

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. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain

The “unfinished work” that Lincoln referred to was begun voluntarily in 1861 when the government and tens of thousands of citizens chose to end the rebellion militarily.  Lincoln and others had every reason to doubt as to whether the nation would find the strength in 1863 and beyond to see the “great task” to its successful conclusion? The outcome would ultimately determine whether the dead had indeed “died in vain.”

Is it possible for Americans today to appreciate the sense of uncertainty that hung over the yet-to-be completed cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 given how disconnected we are from the sacrifices of so many of our military men and women over the past ten years?

To what extent does Lincoln’s hard truth apply to our own wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did these men and women die in vain? Perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely.

Ultimately, Lincoln’s words serve as a reminder of the responsibility of every citizen when our nation utilizes its military and places our fellow Americans in harm’s way.

Jonathan Jarvis Goes To Washington

Jonathan JarvisI looked forward to sharing video of National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis’s testimony in front of a House committee that took place earlier today. Even though I found full coverage of the hearing I decided against linking to it in any way. As you might expect there was very little opportunity for Jarvis to share anything substantive concerning the implementation of park policies and I didn’t see any reason to give these people an additional platform. Continue reading