A recent post by Bongi and our upcoming July 4th has had me thinking about our Civil War. More accurately the fact that I am very glad that my country is still a united country.
My husband is a Civil War buff. In fact for his 40th birthday, we had a "period" dinner party at Marlsgate Plantation. We all dressed in Civil War period clothing. Some friends (a husband and wife) who did re-enacting helped outfit us all. She helped us women with our hair and jewelry. He brought his banjo and played for us after dinner. It was a wonderful evening. At the end of this post you will find some photos from that night.
My husband's fascination with the Civil War is the guns (the actual machinery, engineering, etc), the battles and strategy. None of that matters to me. The reading I tend to gravitate towards regarding that time period focuses on the home front, the ones left to tend the farms and keep the communities going. It is a period in America's history when many soldiers died, but so did many civilians. Most of the battles and therefore the destruction of homes and farms took place in the south. Both armies were unkind in how they conscripted (took, commandeered, stole)supplies, often taking the last chicken or cow from a family. Yes, the soldiers were starving, but so were the civilians. And often the civilian was killed (or if female, raped and then killed) if they resisted and tried to save that last cow so their children would have milk. Anyway.........
I won't/don't downplay the slavery issue, but another major reason for the war was the struggle over state versus federal rule. Because of the Civil War, it doesn't really matter that California passes a state law legalizing medical marijuana. The federal law supercedes the state law.
Recently this played out again with the Supreme Court ruling that it is not legal to use the death penalty for rape, even of a child. So the federal ruling overturns the state.
Many states struggle with the right (or wish to cancel that right) of legal abortion. The federal law supersedes the states. States try to find way around this. We as a country manage to do this by peaceful (mostly) means these days. New laws are passed and then challenged in court. Much ranting is done in blogs/letters to the newspaper and not by violence (mostly--I know there are still some clinic bombings).
Then there is the struggle of personal versus state/federal rights. In medicine, we are touched by this in struggles with the right to die (think Terri Schiavo).
The struggles continue. The push, the pull. We don't always agree on what is right. I don't think a pharmacist should have the right to NOT sell a drug that that federal/state laws say are legal for me to write a prescription and the patient to take. Still that is a current struggle.
I love that in this country we can disagree with each other, and at the same time still respect others rights to be different from us. I love that we can hold an election and have a change in the White House without riots in the street. I know we Americans are not perfect, but I still love my country and its people.
Happy Birthday America!
A Few Book Recommendations:
Civil War Women, the Civil War seen through women's eyes in stories by Louisa May Alcott and others; edited by Frank McSherry Jr, Charles G Waugh, and Martin Greenberg
Yankee Women, Gender Battles in the Civil War by Elizabeth D Leonard
Women in the Civil War by Mary Elizabeth Massey
The Civil War Diary Quilt: 121 Stories and the Quilt Blocks They Inspired by Rosemary Youngs
This is my husband, Brett Herndon, and I (1996). I made his uniform (the vest and pants you see and a jacket) and shirt. I also made my dress. Thank God the sewing machine had been invented. I did the button holes by hand (to be authentic, as my husband put it).
Buddy and Brenda McCutcheon. They were also into re-enacting. She actually helped "dress" all the ladies and did our hair so that we would look like we were from the 1860's.
Our neighbors and friends, Amy and Bill Gatewood. Don't they look like they just stepped out of the past?
Letica and Ralph White. We were a "civil" party with both sides represented.
Raymond and Caroline Boyles. Raymond has gone to a few re-enactments with Brett.
Jay and Vickie Morgan. His pants are a little short because they were my husband's. Still I think they both look wonderful.