We just went through a rough patch of weather over Thanksgiving. Power went out Wednesday afternoon and didn’t return until Friday.
No ovens to cook the dinner, no heat, no football games. We had to sit in the dark and cold Wednesday night before fleeing to my daughter’s house in Maine on Thursday morning where we had all the necessities of life.
As I stood in line at McDonalds early Thursday morning along with 100 other people waiting for a warm Egg McMuffin and coffee, I realized how “out of shape” we Americans really are. Lord help us if an enemy were able to shut off our power for weeks or months.
Coincidentally, this week I have been reading the Civil War Reminiscences of Joshua Chamberlain. For the 99% of Americans who have no knowledge of history, General Chamberlain was a Medal of Honor winner at Gettysburg and was probably one of the greatest field officers in our history. He was also a theologian, teacher, Governor of Maine (four terms) and President of Bowdoin College. He was involved in twenty engagements in many of the battlefields of the War. He was wounded six times (twice near fatally) and had three horses shot out from under him. General Grant selected him and his Corps to accept the surrender of Lee’s forces at Appomatox.
He was a giant among giants at a key turning point in our country’s history, and yet almost no one except history buffs have ever heard of him.
As I read of the hardships that he and his men endured, and the terrible toll it took on all who fought that war, I wondered if our society would still have the stomach to make those sacrifices for something today.
Wars have changed, societies have changed and our sense of ourselves and our place in the world has changed in the last 150 years.
Most of our young people have no understanding of the sacrifices our ancestors made to give us this free nation. It is a shame. We are losing ourselves in ourselves.
Our children are growing up without heroes and accept without understanding the tearing apart of the fabric of our society. They no longer study history so they will never know who someone like Joshua Chamberlain was. It’s too bad, because the world needs more citizens who challenge us to be greater than we ever thought we could be.
It is up to us where we go from here as a nation, but it is hard to find our way forward if we don’t understand how we got here.
I am left wondering if our country’s future would be more clearly defined if we did indeed shut off the power, and refocus on the lessons learned by candlelight.
Glenn K. Currie