I am reading a book called “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara (pp. 29 – 31). It is a book about the personal thoughts of men from both the North and the South who fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July of 1863, in the American Civil War. I want to share some quotes from that book…
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a Union colonel, having to tell some soldiers on the verge of mutiny why they are fighting this terrible Civil War:
“he believed in the dignity of man…He had grown up believing in America and the individual and it was a stronger faith than his faith in God…This was the first place on earth where the man mattered more than the state. True freedom had begun here and it would spread eventually over all the earth. But it had begun here…If men were equal in America…there was really no such thing as foreigner: there were only free men and slaves. And so it was not even patriotism but a new faith. The Frenchman may fight for France, but the American fights for mankind, for freedom: for the people, not the land…We’re an army going out to set other men free….It’s the idea that we all have value, you and me, we’re worth something more than the dirt. I never saw dirt I’d die for…What we’re all fighting for, in the end, is each other.”
He also comments on his enemies from the South:
“The fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean earth was appalling, but more even than that was the horror of old Europe, the curse of nobility, which the South was transplanting to new soil. They were forming a new aristocracy, a new breed of glittering men…”
What some today might call White Supremacy.
I believe in these words and in the Bill of Rights of the United States and in the freedoms granted to citizens by the US Constitution. I also believe these words have taken on dangerous new meanings in these modern troubled times with war raging in Iraq and Christian Fundamentalism rearing its ugly head in banners leading Americans and their armies into battles neither debated, well thought out or reasoned. These are dangerous times and people everywhere should think about this; do the means the US government employs justify its supposed ends?
My belief is they do not…