Reliving ‘The Civil War’

By Ann Shayne
November 11, 2018

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47 Comments
  • Thank you for posting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is a great reminder to us all to remember what this country was built on. God Bless America.

    • Thank you

    • Ann. Beautiful writing. So well done. Love Dad

  • Don’t you just love Shelby Foote, the voice oh everything!!!

  • Ann, thank you, thank you, thank you for this lovely post. First, I love the documentaries that Ken Burns puts together so beautifully for us. They are all so well done, so informative and he finds the best voices to narrate them all. I learn so much from each of them. I appreciate that you chose this topic to post about and that you included the Gettysburg address. It is so appropriate in these times that we are experiencing. I just said the other day that I think this country is headed for a civil war but I certainly hope and pray better minds will prevail.

  • My husband and I suddenly got the urge the other day to rewatch The Civil War too. There’s a terrible unsettling feeling of division in the air, even among friends, and it unfortunately makes words like “civil war” seem pertinent. Inconceivable, but it must have seemed just as inconceivable in 1861

  • Thank you, Ann, for this beautiful post.

  • Thanks to your beautifully worded introduction, it had me in tears. We all need to hear these words again.

  • Such a thoughtful, relevant post Thank you for the quiet reminder.

  • Ann, thank you so much for these timely words. I followed your link to the story behind Ashokan Farewell and love the sentence “a Scottish lament written by a Jewish guy from the Bronx would become the de facto anthem of the Civil War”. The divisiveness in our country right now is so very disturbing and sad. Our country was conceived and structured so that we would welcome and peacefully live with others who have different opinions and beliefs. We even created a peaceful means of completely changing our party of government every four years if that is what the majority wanted. Hard sometimes to put into practice but nevertheless the ideal and we need to remember that, and do our best to live respectfully.

  • Thank you very much for your lovely writing on this, and for your sentiments about this difficult time, and for reminding me to re-watch Ken Burns wonderful film

  • What a beautiful reminder of a man who took it upon himself (and rightly so) to heal the differences of our nation. Sadly, I feel we are now heading in the wrong direction. Let’s hope there is a hero out there to spark unity in our nation again.

  • Ann, your post spoke to my heart, and has brought definition and clarity to feelings for which I previously had no words. Thank you for doing so in such a beautiful and meaningful way.

    ” Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” –EZ

  • My mother, daughter of immigrants, memorized the Gettysburg address when she was in school, can still recite it. We all need to do so from time to time. Thanks.

  • No words but thank you.

  • Thank you for this compelling message. After a week of more division that seems worse than any losses or gains. It is good to be reminded that our Nation has a strength born of sorrow and we shall yet find the path forward to Peace.

  • I did cry the first time I watched The Civil War. I was living in Paris at the time and friends in the States taped it for me. I can’t remember how often I watched that and even got my Irish roommate to watch with me. I cried each time, particularly when Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife, Sarah, is read.

    I am appalled when I hear 45 refer to Republicans as the party of Lincoln. Today’s Republicans have absolutely nothing in common with Lincoln; it is now the Trump party. Bah!

    Thank you for prompting me to watch again, with tissues at hand.

    • Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do something to ease the ache and feeling of helplessness. Thank you also for being sensitive to the cross issue. Please let me know what the final colors are, four squares the same in blue with a cream background??

    • Yes. Sullivan Ballou’s exquisite love letter made me cry when I first heard it…and still does, every time I re-watch the series.

  • Amen to your post Ann. And to all the veterans out there, happy Veteran’s Day
    Thank you for your service.

  • Thank you for this lovely post – yogurt words and timing are impeccable.

  • I immediately went back and reread this post. One of your best and most heartfelt ever with so much for us to consider.

  • Ashokan Farewell was played, by his son, at the funeral of a dear friend’s father, a WWII POW. The perfect post for Veterans Day. Thank you.

  • Thank you Ann. A beautiful message.

  • beautiful, and thoroughly timely. thank you, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  • Well put. More Americans should read this – maybe it would curb some of the hate that seems to be constantly churning. I’ve enjoyed all of Ken Burns series that I’ve watched, but this is still my favorite. Thank you for posting.

  • This has to be one of the greatest speeches in US history and maybe of the world. We should read it often to remind ourselves what America is and should be.

  • Thank you.

  • I thought I was the only one thinking that our neighbours are in risk of civil war. So frightening, even for your friends to the north. Your post has brought tears to my eyes. Keep safe.

  • So it’s early autumn of 1988, a few months after Michael Shaara, author of “The Killer Angels,” passes away, and I’m in Gettysburg, touring the battlefield. I’m twenty years old.

    We spring for the paid tour, in which the guide drives your car through the entire site, with many stops along the way, as he describes the three days of that battle. The tour takes almost three hours. It is worth every penny. Our guide is one of the few who passed an exam of 300+ questions and essays in order to earn this job.

    We fall silent at the memorial for the Irish Brigade. We look across a peaceful field and realize that so many men suffered and died there. We stand alongside the statue of Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top. Everything is quiet and peaceful.

    Our tour guide paints a very different picture for us, of blood and heat and foolishness and bravery and stupidity and desperation. He does not try to make any of it grandiose or romantic. He knows the names of privates and colonels, cooks and generals: men, young and old, where they were from, how they died, who survived to the end of the war, who survived only to die in the last battles of that long war.

    I buy “The Killer Angels” and read it in one night. I read it again on the return trip home later that week. Over the years, I read it every year or so.

    And I think, how lucky I am, to have visited that place. Not because it glorifies war, but because it serves as a reminder of how we rely on other peoples’ children to fight and bleed and die for us. That we can let ourselves become so divided that we would be willing to take up arms against our fellow citizens. That war is a terrible, brutal, political, bloody thing in which life is forsaken both on and off battlefields, and maybe, MAYBE one day mankind will learn to live without trying to kill one another.

    Not in my lifetime, but maybe someday.

    • I was at Gettysburg during the 150th anniversary of that battle. I was overcome with emotion at the Cyclorama exhibit at the Visitors Center. The total effect was all encompassing and it just hit me that that conflict is still simmering today. Wow. All Americans should visit if you can. Powerful lesson for us all.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful, timely post. Everyone could learn from this. I will rewatch Ken Burns Civil War again. He produces the greatest films of important historical times. I found myself reciting the Gettysburg Address before I started reading it. I’m thinking this type of memorization probably does not occur now in our schools; what a great loss for Americans.

  • Thank you so much Ann. I loved this series. I also recommend Gary Willis’ book on the Gettysburg address. Also thinking on how this is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War in which millions both soldiers and civilians died.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful post. I think that The Civil War is my favorite of Ken Burns’ series. It made me cry then and it makes me cry now. There is so much to worry about, but, as you point out, there are things to celebrate, too!

  • So beautiful.

  • Thank you, Ann. and thank you all for your meaningful comments.

    • Such a beautiful post. Thank you not only for your words and the link to the gorgeous Ashokan Lament but also to you and Kay for providing this wonderful space where we knitters can practice tikkun olam — repairing the world through our craft and our community

  • Whenever I read this wonderful piece of oratory I remember that the press of the time paid little attention to it. They were unimpressed because it was short. They gave the coverage to another speaker who went on for a couple of hours.

    This bears remembering nowadays when MSM is all about clickbait, trivia, little substance. Words of real value are noticed later.

  • Thank you for reminding us that we are a nation of for the people and by the people.

  • Thank you, Ann.

  • A well-written and timely tribute. Still today, I think Burns’ Civil War tops the best list of anything made for TV viewing with The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman a close second.
    That haunting melody, the finality of it, the sadness I hear in it, makes me think of those in California affected by the horrid fires. Fortunately, I don’t live close to the fires. It is difficult to comprehend that thousands more are now homeless, others are missing, 31 and counting have died and millions are breathing that stinky, smokey air. This is yet another tragic event, like the hurricanes and floods of recent past, but little warning of the swiftness of terrifying fires. I think it’s time to count my blessings.

  • Thank you for this post. We attended an ecumenical choir concert Saturday night sponsored by the LDS church and held in a Catholic Cathedral. Five choirs sang,and one of the selections was the singing of the Declaration of Independence. We need these reminders of who we are meant to be. It is good to read again the Gettysburg Address. Gives me hope.

  • Ann,

    You’ve written a very touching piece. I’m at my desk this morning with Ashokan Farewell playing, tears in my eyes.

  • Oh! Such a beautiful post. Thank you. And thanks for the link to the Ashokan Farewell story in the Atlantic. I’ve always loved that piece, and th recording in the story is exquisite. Especially the rubato in the opening fiddle solo. I had chills!

  • Long one; read at one’s leisure.

    Wow; great read! As a veteran myself, I can’t stomach some war info, particularly the ‘Nam era when I was a young adult, but I try…..and cry. The Civil war is one of my favorites if war can ever be favored.

    As a musician, I had to have the sheet music to “Ashokan Farewell (Jay Ungar; Molly Mason) so we flew off to a a local library, BION, that had a copy. At the piano, I wore it out and just recently purchased another though I can pretty much ‘drop dead’ play an improv of it. Triple meters just sooth my musical soul, really. This go, I purchased it digitally. How special to have this system to one’s avail though I loved the road trip..

    We’re restoring a music book; George Frederick Root’s (Sabbath) from 1850 something…..seriously old in Roman numerals; dig that out of one’s gray matter. @@. Root was prolific for years composing, teaching, performing and I can’t wait to work that book over loving his The Vacant Chair and The Battle Cry of Freedom. Stephen Foster, too.

    Speaking of great reads, the Great American read polled people’s favorite books to ultimately choose America’s favorite with daily voting over many month’s and just finished up in October, ’18; Public TV/radio (Iowa). Six of my fav books made the list; GWTW = #6 and my fav; movie, too, FTM. If the results interest you:

    https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/results/

    The gift of literacy can expound further in reading…..anything, eh? “Yarnie patterns”, anyone? @@,./’;,./’; Well, one could free form, right? I’m trying to do just that with some funky ecru yarn working up well enough as a small hexagonal table cloth… 50″?….. + a drop…..for ‘me mum’ at Christmas. Hubby’s yarnie gift will be the Doctor Who scarf which is almost ready to weave in those ends then I have lost a necktie knitted for our son…..ack!!. And, I can’t remember what I made for our daughter or my sis’! LOL!!

    Thanks for listening!
    DRM

  • Thank you. A few years ago I saw a movie (where?) about a school for boys who had struggled in school elsewhere. This school was a boarding school and each boy had to learn the Gettysburg Address by heart and recite it before the whole school. It was a rite of passage for each boy and the learning process was intense for them, but the sense of accomplishment you saw as they each did so was awe-inspiring. I printed out copies for each person in my family. We did not all learn it (sigh for a dream denied). But reading it and trying to learn it myself was a moving reminder of the beauty of our nation’s foundational principles.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Amen❤️