So, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a history buff, particularly interested in American history – the Revolution and the Civil War…and anything I can relate to through ancestry, such as the Great Depression and our involvement in WWI and WWII. While watching “The States” on History International this evening [it’s strange how much American history can be seen on this station whereas the majority of the original “History” (no longer “History Channel”…weird) has lots of non-historical series], I saw this ad…public service announcement…well, I suppose it is an ad, it’s asking for money. (Sorry, there’s no way to embed it here.)
I’ll wait while you watch…
Okay, so in case you’re not watching it, the most impacting statement in the short video is that Civil War battle sites are being lost at an acre an hour. This is IIIINNNSAAAANE.
I recall a recent re-viewing of Ken Burns’ “The Civil War”. At the end of every episode, I found myself overwhelmed by uncontrollable tears and melancholy. So much loss of life. So much fierce belief in their causes (unless they had been fighting for years and were losing sight of their cause for the more common sense “I’ve seen too much death and destruction, I don’t want to die” perspectives). So much unthinkable horror that the slaves were put through.
Why do I care so much? My connection to the war goes back to my grandfather’s grandfather. John Cunningham joined up on the Union side as, I believe, a drummer in his early teens. He survived the entire war after being bumped up the ranks to soldier (not sure how far up the ranks). After the war, he stayed on in the army to travel out west for the Indian wars. I’m not sure if he had moral reasons for signing up for either, but my guess is not – he didn’t seem to be the most moral and upstanding of men, unfortunately. Fortunately for us, my grandfather and his siblings turned out to be some of the best ilk of human you could happen upon. (Grandpa was a Marine who served in the Pacific during WWII; his dad served overseas during WWI, and it was his small veteran allowance of rice or what was available for the week that helped the family survive the Great Depression. Side note, sorry.)
For some reason, regardless of whether or not John Cunningham had a good reason for signing up, I have a huge emotional connection to the Civil War. My favorite childhood vacation was our trip to Gettysburg (where I bought a Union cap that I wore the hell out of); second favorite was our trip to Vermont where we visited the Lincoln family summer home, Hildene, where I got to see a hat that Lincoln actually wore. As a child, I had a romanticized ideal in my head about longing to live during that time and couldn’t learn enough about Abe Lincoln. In my early-20s, I even considered becoming a Civil War reenactor (not sure if that’s what women are called, though). Yeah. I love my ’30s, ’40s and ’60s, but my heart belongs to the 1860s.
If you feel the same at all and would consider it, please go to http://www.history.com/give150 and donate what you can – $1.50, $15, $150 or “other”. Your donation will be matched. How can you go wrong? Even if we all donated $1.50, it could make a significant difference. Otherwise, please just consider the lives who were handed over, duty-bound to the ages, upon the 150th anniversary of oh so many horrible atrocities and history-making events.
“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity. ~Dexter Perkins”