It’s a picture night, folks. The news is a firehose, but too many late nights mean I simply must get some sleep. The spot in this photo, the Angle, was the high-water mark of the Confederacy. It was here, on a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863, that United States soldiers stopped the Confederate soldiers of Pickett’s Charge, turning back the men who were fighting to establish a nation based on the proposition that men were created unequal and that some men should rule the rest.
Heather, you may never read this, but I want you to know how treasured you are. I am so very grateful for your steady and thoughtful words that help us navigate very troubled waters. Thank you. From my heart to yours.
Hi folks: I did realize that I had the date of Pickett's Charge wrong. A typo, I promise! It's fixed now.
What a beautiful parallel, Heather. Ukraine & Gettysburg. Once again we can all be grateful for your wisdom.
Mr. Welch, my fourth grade teacher, taught us ... insisted we memorize ... Lincoln's words at Gettysburg. Seventy years later his words still touch my soul.
Like my first teacher, you inspire me (us), Heather, to make real our creed in opposition to those - as you so well put it - "men who were fighting to establish a nation based on the proposition that men were created unequal and that some men should rule the rest."
Lincoln's words to Congress in 1862 ring true today "Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We … will be remembered in spite of ourselves. … The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."
Heather I am one who sat in high school history classes in the 60’s taught by football coaches who read our texts ad-nausium. I am finally learning US History from your delightful essays. Thank you Thank you. I am 75, learning from you daily!
Dear Dr. Heather Cox Richardson. In my occasional comments in response to your LFAA, I rarely commend you for your invaluable contributions to the creation of a new global civilization; fortunately, many others do so consistently.
But I take this opportunity to thank you for using your enviable skills and knowledge to inform and inspire your not-so-little digital community and, in the process, to move the needle marking human progress ever so slightly forward. As you have constantly noted, these are trying and dangerous times, but they are also opportune times that offer each of us the possibility of contributing in some small measure, a piece of the puzzle that will become a new era for humanity.
At this moment, I am especially grateful to you in that you have wisely chosen to take this night for what I know is some badly needed rest and rejuvenation. Along with so many others, I worry for your health and welfare when your candle burns, not only at both ends, but in the middle, too.
Please take care of yourself. Nice to see the colors of the Ukrainian flag in that beautiful sunset.
Take care of yourself-your clarity is important in these complicated times.
Thank you for the perfect picture tonight and the words of President Lincoln. I hope President Biden either uses Lincoln's words or has a memorable line in his speech that children will learn in decades to come. It feels that we are living a pivotal moment in history when the world now unites to stand up for democracy and curb the autocracies. My word tonight is palpable. One of the reporters in Ukraine reported that Ukrainians hate for the Russians was palpable. When I hear the word palpable I think back to June of 1990 when I spent a weekend in Berlin a month before the 2 Germanys reunited. The euphoria about the Berlin wall coming down had been replaced with an anxiety that was palpable with the East Berliners looking at West Germany's much richer society and the West Berliners realizing what it would take to lift East Germany out of the poverty. The Gorbachev/Bush summit was happening in Moscow supposedly to decide what should happen with Germany. It was out of their hands by then. While standing in Berlin you felt that the boulder was rolling down hill and nothing was going to stop the inevitability of the history unfolding on its own. And, yes, I cherish my piece of the Berlin wall colored with the spray paint of freedom.
Your letter tonight was magnificent. The unity felt around the world of nations has definitely become the symbol for Americans to heed the words of Lincoln.
God bless and keep you. You are helping all of us hold onto the hope we need, the courage to stand fast. Please take care of yourself, and thank you for the wisdom and breadth of vision you have shared with us. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE to our country! <3
Thank you Heather and Buddy for bringing us to the spot in the photo of the Angle, the high-water mark of the Confederacy. There on a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 2, 1863, the United States soldiers stopped the Confederate soldiers of Pickett’s Charge, and turned back the men who were fighting to establish a nation based on the proposition that men were created unequal and that some men should rule the rest. (Letter)
Today on March 1, 2022, in Ukraine, the United States of America and other countries around the world we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal and endowed by unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among people deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. (edit from the Declaration of Independence)
Today and tomorrow we feel the urgency, the challenge and the determination to bring these truths to the fore.
Langston Hughes - 1901-1967
We cry among the skyscrapers
As our ancestors
Cried among the palms in Africa
Because we are alone,
It is night,
And we’re afraid.
From The Weary Blues (Alfred A. Knopf, 1926) by Langston Hughes. This poem is in the public domain.
Everyone should visit Gettysburg, more than once if possible. To immerse oneself in a place of such horror and heroism, to reflect on what took place there, is one of the most profoundly moving experiences one can have.
I don't know how you've managed to do all that traveling and taken only one day off--and you really do need that sleep. (On the subject of sleep, I highly recommend Mathew Walker's Why We Sleep. Walker is head of the Human Sleep Science Laboratory at UC Berkeley, and doing without can precipitate all manner of illnesses, and it interferes with learning, as the day's memories are transferred from the during sleep from the hippocampus to the cerebral cortex, which is why it's a huge mistake for students to pull all nighters. Experiments have shown that the ones who do remember little compared to those who get a good night's sleep. Walker brings the science alive.
There are also some fascinating anecdotes. Keith Richards used to sleep with a tape recorder and a guitar nearby, so that if he was inspired in the middle of the night, he could take advantage of it. One morning, he awakened, without any memory of being up the previous night, to find that his tape recorder had been used. He played it, and heard--for the first time ever--the song, Satisfaction, followed by 40 minutes of his snoring.
As a Civil War buff, I'm fascinated to see the photo of Gettysburg, and one of these days I'll have to get there. I have read detailed and fascinating accounts of some of the battles from a northern soldier's viewpoint in Rufus: A Boy's Extraordinary Experiences in the Civil War. Phoebe Sheldon pulled the book together based on her great great grandfather, Rufus Harnden's letters home from the war. He volunteered in 1862 at age 17. Chancellorsville is particularly interesting, with details on the North being routed by Stonewall, just before he was shot.
I too am so grateful for you Heather. And take very good care of yourself. Thank you from my heart and mind.
Thank you for bringing us all together, Professor Richardson.
Salud to freedom!
Please take care of yourself! America needs your wisdom and insight! I need it!! “Letters from An American” are vital for our democracy! Thank you for all you do and the sacrifices you make for us!