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A Stillness at Appomattox

While watching the results not come in over the last 2 nights I’ve been re-reading Bruce Catton’s “A Stillness at Appomattox”, which seems kinda appropriate. The last, phantasmagorically violent year of the war, in which Americans stood toe to toe and crushed each other’s skulls with rifle butts or burned alive on forest floors or were hit by so many bullets that their bodies sometimes fell apart, bleeding each other until there seemingly wan’t enough ground in Virginia to soak it all up anymore. And then that lone rider cutting through the exhausted lines, with a white flag, and Lee and Grant meeting in that small farmhouse, the former dressed in his best uniform, the latter staining the carpet with the mud splattered from his trousers and boots. The terms offered were simple. Lay down your arms and go home. What food the Union army had was shared with the men who had been killing them since 1861. And from then on, grammatically it became “the United States IS” instead of “the United States ARE”. And despite fucking things up over and over again ever since, we’ve always sorta managed to just about hold it together, resisting the urge to once again fire on the Fort Sumter du jour and kick-start things all over again.

Sometimes you need a little perspective. Or maybe a history lesson.

Take a deep breath. We shall overcome.

In a bit..

–tf

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