I’ve been absent from “the weekly packet” for over a year. The effort of getting “JFK. The Last Speech” edited and published left me feeling as if I had nothing more to say. Then, along came COVID, the elections, and a move that I really had not anticipated.
A month ago, Katherine, Posie and I relocated to a cozy cottage in an independent living community in Chagrin Falls, OH. We’re not far from where we grew up, and importantly, not far from Katherine’s family. With our furniture, cookware, and books in place, it’s time to start writing again.
Perspective offers one of the great joys of growing older. As the events of the past year have unfolded, those in my generation can look back on the experiences of school integration, the social unrest and violence of the Vietnam protests, and the disturbing circumstances of Bush vs. Gore in Florida 2000. But most of all, I keep turning back to the Civil War as the fundamental critical issue of our national history.
I want to explore the thesis that in many ways we’ve never really settled that war. The divisive issues still divide us and the impact of the war on our institutions remains.
Let me start with a straightforward question. What position should we take on the memorials to the heroes of the Confederacy? The cemeteries with simple memorials to those Confederate soldiers who gave their lives in the war are not the issue. Let’s talk about the large equestrian statues and monuments honoring Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson that appeared in the Jim Crow era and idealized men who had attended the United States Military Academy, then turned against their country not just to support but to lead an armed rebellion.
I’ll explore this, and other questions, over the next few months. Welcome back.