Some ramblings on Veterans Day and Lincoln… what with the movie coming out and all.
I’ve seen a number of stats on how many soldiers died during the Civil War. Five hundred thousand. Six hundred thousand. And that’s not taking into account civilian casualties, property and wounds that still haven’t healed after 150 years.
If you’ve visited Gettysburg you don’t need to evoke Lincoln to break down in tears. You look across the cemetery and the graves reach out to the horizon, encompassing one’s entire field of vision in an endless matrix of white on green. It speaks to an awesome unity of purpose as well as a sense that each life on its own meant so little.
I can’t imagine anyone today questioning the wisdom and great mission of that war. It’s almost impossible to imagine America if you were to question the validity of the Civil War. And yet that war, unlike World War II—the other indisputably ‘necessary war’ did not start out with the great purpose for which it is remembered. It is perhaps one of the few cases in history where a situation spun totally out of control and yet wound up achieving something positive.
Half a million guys. With an ‘m’. Pow. Can you imagine any cause today, I mean any that a consensus of Americans would consider worth the lives of 500,000 soldiers? I can’t. Well… OK… if those Independence Day guys show up in their space ship.[...]