Friday, September 21, 2012

Death and The Civil War

This picture may seem typical or even boring to the viewer, but I cannot help but look at it and be moved.

I have just watched an excellent documentary called Death and the Civil War, which was based on Drew Gilpin Faust's book, entitled This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. We all know that The Civil War was terrible, but I have been floored by how this documentary really brings the death and suffering to your heart. This war shook Americans to their core, and our ideals about religion and death were changed forever. We have never had a war before or since that was so close and personal; where we lost so many young men in the prime of their life. I cannot help but think that, if The Civil War were to happen today, America would not recover. In the 1860s, Americans pulled together and completed the grim tasks of caring the dead and dying, but could we find enough resolve in ourselves today to do this? I just don't think so. We've lost a lot of our ability to communicate and commiserate, be it because of the coming of the digital age or growth of population past the point where we can know our neighbors personally, who knows. I'm amazed and deeply in debt to those who came before me, and lived so bravely during this time.

Looking back at this photo, I think these men are lucky. They survived the war, and not only that, they are buried in their homeland with a proper headstone. So many young men died in the heat of battle, and were rolled into a shallow grave without even their name being recorded. So many families never got to bring their men home. I can't imagine having a brother, friend, husband, son, or father die in battle, and never knowing how they died or where they were buried. There is something so unsettling about that, and that is why I feel that these men are lucky. 

Here is a link to the documentary and book: 

1 comment:

  1. Very eloquently stated. The documentary made me think about aspects of the Civil War that I really (and sadly) hadn't contemplated before. Like the simple fact that when I walk across Civil War battlefields, I'm actually walking over the graves of dead soldiers. Very sobering. Could we survive another American war of this magnitude? I doubt it too? Times have changed too much, and not altogether for the better.