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We Can Do It Too
2018-04-11

            On all levels of government, from federal, state, county, on down to local, we've had our share of controversy.

            Heck, we've had more than our share of downright disagreements that led to disrespectful and embarrassing behavior from elected officials.

            Members of the public were also guilty of a fair share of that disrespect and embarrassing behavior.

            Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.  Sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong.  Knowing the difference is one thing, accepting the outcome is another.

            When the smoke clears and the dust finally settles, will we ever be able to "bury the hatchet" and move forward or are we destined to live in the shadows of disagreements? 

            Vengeance and hate cast an ugly veil over what's good for the people and there are times when, for the good of all, we need to look beyond our opinions and work for the common good.

            Sometimes it's referred to as "sucking it up" and being the better person.

            Nobody has ever choked to death while swallowing their pride.

            It was a little over 153 years ago, near Appomattox Court House in Virginia when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate's Army of the Potomac to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

            More than 620,000 soldiers died in the four-year Civil War.  It was America's bloodiest conflict.

            The horrors of the war, the reasons for it, and the hate generated by it were put on hold that April morning when the two generals met.  One was seeking the conditions for his surrender, the other was thinking about the future.

            In his memoirs, Grant admitted that he had no idea what terms he would ask for in the surrender.  But, when he put pen to paper in the home of local grocer Wilmer McClean his words of reconciliation poured forth. 

            Being in the position of victor, he could have levied the vengeance of the entire North on Lee and his army.  But he knew they would now become United States citizens again.  He didn't place the Confederate Army in prison; he sent them home.

            He allowed the Confederate's to keep their personal side arms and animals and even gave them Union rations as they were sent on their way.

            Grant knew that the sooner the economy of the south was regained, the sooner the country could reconcile.  His actions were intended to help a torn nation heal.

            According to reports, while they were waiting for the treaty to be formally prepared, Grant introduced Lee to a member of his staff, Lt. Col. Ely Parker.  Ely was a Seneca Indian from New York State.

            Lee told Parker that "It's good to see one real American here today" to which Parker replied, "General, we are all Americans today."

            As Lee and his troops left Appomattox Court House, the Union Band played Auld Lang Syne (For Old Times Sake).

            The magnanimity on display during that meeting shows us that we can do it too.


 

 

 

 

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