Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 1861: Mystic Chords of Memory Will Yet Swell the Chorus of the Union

The American Civil War began 150 years ago today.

Detail from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis, Indiana (click to enlarge).  I see liberty, victory, longing, waiting, reunion; an African slave holding up his broken chains to Lady Liberty, the symbol of America.  The monument was formally dedicated on May 15, 1902; Civil War General Lew Wallace (Indiana native and author of Ben-Hur) was the master of ceremonies.

Lincoln closed his First Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1861, with this plea:

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Richard Balsamo