There is war and there is civility. These two cannot be connected.
My two recent posts on Washington D.C. and environs describe the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum (Patriotism and Peace) and biking on the Mt. Vernon Trail (My Butt is Sore But My Beer Is Cold).
During the same trip, I also spent time in Fredericksburg, Virginia, an historical gem with both colonial period sites and civil war period battlegrounds and cemeteries.A beautiful spring day arrives with cherry trees blooming and dogwood bursting forth with color. Detached from such a day, you read of the bitter cold and the waves and waves of union soldiers marching up from the Rappahannock River, only to be cut down incessantly by confederate soldiers hidden and protected behind a stone wall on “Sunken Road.” Waves and waves means 30,000 men. 8,000 felled. Not one reached Marye’s Heights, where the confederate army defended the ridge. In one battle. In the bitter cold. December 13, 1862.All war is gruesome, but the American Civil War is particularly sobering for the hardships suffered by soldiers from both sides of the line. I strolled through both the Confederate Cemetery and the National Civil War Cemetery (only Union soldiers are interred). There is also a Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center that explains the battle that took place in Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. You go away with a feeling of sadness, yet you hope that humanity has learned the futility and destruction of war. You come to realize that war seems to be endemic to humanity. I would not have thought this a mere five years ago.
Both cemeteries hold the remains of unidentified soldiers (civil war soldiers did not wear dog tags). And so many of the markers in the National Cemetery contain an identity number, followed by a number indicating how many bodies are associated with that marker.
You leave the cemetery and once again return to Victorian-aged homes with inviting front porches in a peaceful American neighborhood.