Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Blue and The Gray

It was the deadliest war in American history with 620,000 deaths, including soldiers and civilians. The American Civil War, which began in 1861 and ended in 1865, legally abolished slavery in the United States, restored the Union, and strengthened the role of the federal government.

So why after all these years would groups of people, men and women, reenact such bloody and deadly battles? I suspect they do it for a number of reasons. Perhaps one of them is also the reason why we have ceremonies every September 11th, build memorials, and erect statues to the fallen. It is because will never and should never forget!

We as a nation honor our fallen soldiers for just that reason, so that those who died for our freedom did not die in vain. We remember because it is more than important - it is necessary. The lives of the fallen must be honored and must be held in our hearts with thanks and gratitude. What they did mattered and their lives mattered whether they died yesterday in Afghanistan or a hundred and forty years ago on a Civil War battle field.

I couldn't help but feel the pulse of a time long ago when brother fought against brother and father against son. As I walked through the encampments of the Union and Confederate Armies, I felt myself being drawn into history and a much simpler life than what I know today. The farm in Moorpark where The Blue and The Gray event was taking place is out in the country among fields ripe for harvest and horses lazily grazing in their corals.

Children played with wooden toys while mothers prepared food over open fires. No, they would not have been on the battle fields, but they added flavor to the event and brought to mind the families that waited and prayed that their husbands, sons, and brothers would soon return home.

The battles were loud and primitive in the way they were fought in comparison to how wars are fought today. But I think the most difficult thing for me to see were the young boys no more than ten or twelve years old carrying rifles nearly as big as they were. Some played the drums and fifes leading the home grown soldiers to almost certain death. Many of them died, too, never knowing life as a grown up.

For me the day was a learning experience bringing the pages of history alive. It drummed home to me how much I hate war and what it does to our young men and these days our young women too. I captured images with my camera that I know are not "real," but they remind me of a time and a place in history that was very real. I hope and pray that the war we are now fighting will end soon and that our young men and women will be able to come home and live their lives, unlike so many who lost their lives in the bloodiest war in American History.

Those that reenact the battles of the Civil War do so for many reasons, but I suspect that one of the main reasons is so that we will never forget how precious peace in our country is and the very dear price that has and is being paid for our freedom.

You can see all my photos from The Blue and The Gray event in Moorpark on my website Elizabeth Heath Photography.

Now go forth and thank a veteran for putting his or her life on the line so that you can live free.

No comments:

Post a Comment