Facing our past

In case you haven’t heard, today marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Ever since I found the entry on the “American Civil War” when I was a kid thumbing through my family’s set of grey World Book Encyclopedias, I’ve been hooked on “the Blue and the Grey.” I read somewhere that more books have been written about the Civil War than any other period in American history, so I guess I’m not alone in feeling drawn to it.

I’ve visited four Civil War battlefields and came away from each one moved by the sacrifices of ordinary people for a cause they believed in, and saddened that so much suffering could not have been avoided. The Civil War re-defined our identity as a nation, but it shattered so many lives in the process. Roughly one of every 50 Americans died during the war. That’s hard to believe, but it’s part of our story. It makes me hope and pray that the millions living in the midst of violent conflict in Africa and the Middle East — including in the Ivory Coast and Libya — will be spared the scourge of full-blown civil war.

Have you ever visited a Civil War battlefield? If you have a favorite or most poignant Civil War story, feel free to share it below.

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