I went to a Civil War battlefield recently, a battle for which I had no knowledge.
Bentonville, south of Raleigh in North Carolina. There, on March 19-21, 1865, General Joe Johnson and his twenty thousand Confederates met General William Sherman and his sixty thousand Union boys on their way anywhere they wanted. They fought. Three days they fought in sandy forests, amid teeming creeks and fields under cultivation in what some described as fighting every bit as horrific as anything that happened at Gettsyburg or anywhere else during the four year blood letting that became American history.
Eighteen days later Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Johnson himself would surrender to Sherman eighteen days after that. No one at Bentonville believed anything but the truth, yet they fought valiantly, bravely, heroically and without respite. Casualties amounted to four thousand two hundred men.
A wood frame house on the battleground still stands. It belonged to the family who found themselves in the middle of hell and remained in the house throughout the battle with fighting only a few hundred yards away. The Union army took over the home as a field dressing station and the family with children retired upstairs while below in the parlor doctors put a door from the house on two trestles for an operating table and began the grim task of treatment and amputation. They cut off an estimated eighty limbs, throwing them out the window or the door. Blood still stains the wooden floor. You can almost hear the screams.
That was then. This is now.
We fly flags proclaiming sex over our government buildings and public schools. We scream at each other about rights and wrongs and trust not to God in prayer but to the media which seeks neither right nor wrong, but market share. We don’t respect one another. We don’t like one another. We don’t even know one another and in all the talk and flag waving about things like sex and how much we matter, we have become impotent.
Those who folded their flags in defeat and those who received their surrender did so at least in honor.
We have lost ours.
You can almost hear the screams.