Images from a week on the road in and around Virginia and Maryland.
These are photos from two of the most important campaigns in the Civil War: Antietam and Appomattox Court House. The former marked the bloodiest battle of the war, with over 22,000 casualties between both sides. At the latter, the long nightmare ended-- with General U.S. Grant accepting the surrender of Robert E. Lee, ending the conflict.
It's hard to imagine what happened on these rolling hills where wild turkeys, hordes of school children, and tourists now roam. As I walked behind a woman chatting on a cell-phone in the cemetery, and thought of the events of last week, I am reminded that we have short attention spans and an even shorter knowledge of history. Although the loss of anyone is a tragedy, the loss of memory is a far greater crime.
I wonder, as we debate issues of gun regulation, health care, politics, gay mariage and more-- how many Americans realize that over 600,000 brave soldiers died on American Soil in a fight to preserve a simple concept: ONE. We are one nation because of their sacrifice and a President's resolve to ensure we stayed as a single nation, not a seperate and weak patchwork of places where freedom and opportunity applied unequally and unevenly.
Today, we are one nation as the result of idea, so tested by recent events, that we could govern ourselves. Not governed by those who lobby or buy elections or votes, but as the product of a serious effort by citizens to work together, to compromise, and to find solutions. Not to hide in fear from big issues, or practice the art of dividing people or denying rights and certainly not to drown in money.
Do we have problems, of course. But we have had bigger ones. Do we have differences, of course. But we have had bigger ones. No matter what, we must be willing to sit down, work through, discuss, compromise, and come together. One Flag, One Nation. To those that say their way or the highway no matter what the issue, I share with you these images as a reminder of what that path led to. How many lives lost for ego-- ignorance-- fear and hatred? I hope we never need another Bloody Lane-- or Unconditional Surrender to remind Americans that we are in this together. Whatever the challenge, whatever the foe. Our duty is to learn from where we have been, so that we can make a better today and tomorrow. That is the truth whispered on the wind at Antietam-- and by the ghosts buried under the tranquil rolling hills of Virgnia.