Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for the Civil War?

In this time of giving thanks - a good idea, but one that probably should be a year-around activity - the thought “I’m thankful for the Civil War” came to mind.

I immediately second-guessed myself - am I really thankful for a scourge (thank you Mr. Lincoln for that descriptive word) that led to 700,000 deaths and many more injuries and illnesses? Can I truly be thankful for such destruction and suffering?

I then naturally start the not unexpected debate with myself. Of course, I am extremely thankful for the abolition of American slavery. Of course, I am thankful for keeping the nation together, though that is more being thankful for the result than for the war. I am thankful that so many battlefields from the war are preserved and so many artifacts have survived. I am thankful that the Civil War is not just a forgotten page of the past. 

I am thankful for having something that fascinates me so much, gives me something to study and even to write about. I collect some Civil War items, as well as books. I’m thankful for that ability. I’m thankful to volunteer at a Civil War museum and with a new Civil War group.  I certainly appreciate the people I’ve met through Civil War related activities and experiences I have had. What would I be doing with my time if not for the many interesting aspects of the Civil War?

But can I really be “thankful” for a war? The elimination of slavery is the strongest point for saying yes, for I do not know when, how or even if it would have gone away without war and it’s elimination was a necessary step fo4 this nation. From that viewpoint, yes I am glad the war happened, but I still find it strange to say I’m thankful for such a destructive war. Is the immense benefit of freedom worth that absolutely awful price (even if that freedom was not instantaneous for too many people?) I have to say “yes,” but it still seems difficult to understand the concept of being thankful for something that required such horrific killing and destruction.

Early in the days of this blog, I wrote a post asking if the Civil War was a good thing  I suppose that this post is simply a re-wording of that question, but even 8 years later I have uncertainty in how exactly I want to answer it. Perhaps I will write about it again in the future. I am surely thankful for this platform on which I can ponder such issues.

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