Reasons to Remember Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1st to July 3rd of 1863, and yours truly tries to make a point of reminding people of this battle each year.  In part, I wish that more people learned about the outstanding characters of the people who fought then.  Also, the heroism displayed in the steadfast defense of General John Buford (July 1st), the battle for Little Round Top (July 2nd), and Pickett’s Charge (July 3rd) are worthy of remembrance.  Lastly, despite being limited to muzzleloaders, percussion revolvers, canons, bayonets, and sabers, Gettysburg stands as the fourth deadliest battle in American history (WWI’s Battle of Meuse-Argonne, WWII’s Battle of the Bulge, and WWII’s Battle of Okinawa rank above it in that order), and people ought to learn the causes behind that awful period of civil strife and make sure that history does not repeat itself.

Unfortunately, several parallels to the antebellum years which ignited the Civil War do presently exist.  (As do parallels to the Decline of the Roman Empire and the last days of Tsarist Russia–but, that is for another article.)  Here are the parallels: 1) the constant debate over an extremely divisive moral issue: slavery then and abortion now; 2) various states (New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas) have experienced an influx of citizens from states with the intention or unintended result of slanting a state’s politics, as 19th century America saw in Kansas and Texas; 3) the existence of secessionist movements; 4) unrest caused by the federal government either passing laws against the interests of certain states or trying to impose a uniform culture; and 5) the excessive demonization of the opposing side and the difficulty of rational argument as a result.

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Anime’s Robert E. Lee

The idea for this article was ignited by my fascination with Robert E. Lee, with the flames of my imagination first stoked by Robert E. Lee on Leadership by H. W. Crocker III and fanned into a blaze by Emory Thomas’s Robert E. Lee: A Biography and Michael Korda’s Clouds of Glory, the latter of which I could not finish because its repetitiveness wore me out.  At the same time as I read the latter, I started watching Captain Harlock and could not but note the similarity between the personalities and struggles of Lee and Harlock.  Sure, they hold polar opposite views and habits concerning alcohol, but most of their other differences are superficial.  When you’ve finished the article, be sure to tell me whether you are struck by the same fact as your humble author: that Captain Harlock is the closest approximation to R. E. Lee among anime characters.

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Both figures impress one with how their polish and perfection mingle with a spirit of humility.  Lee was dubbed “the Marble Man” at West Point for his perfect obedience to his superiors and adherence to duty.  (Lee graduated West Point without a single demerit.)  With Harlock, we have also yet to see a real character flaw, save for Harlock’s audacity and alcoholic indulgence–though, Harlock even carries his indulgence to perfection as he never behaves drunkenly.  The characters of Space Pirate Captain Harlock look up to their captain in the same way that many looked up to Lee as a peerless soldier during his lifetime.

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Links to Anime Season Reviews and the Battle of Gettysburg

At this point, I’d usually review the anime I’ve watched from this season and rate them from one to five stars.  This sort of season review might still come about on Medieval Otaku, but I already have reviews up for every show except Seraph of the End.  You’ll find these reviews scattered over three posts on Beneath the Tangles: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  In the first part, Kaze gives Seraph of the End the same rating I’d give it.  The second part features an amusing picture of Hestia with a caption added by yours truly.  I found the picture particularly endearing because of it’s resemblance to the “Kilroy was here” image used by the Allies to mark their progress in WWII.

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Let me remind my dear readers, as I did last year, that we celebrate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1st – July 3rd.  Lord Drako Arakis created a beautifully drawn and tragic music video to commemorate last year’s anniversary, and I hope that he has one planned for this year.  (His latest video is a ribald song not at all in the spirit of the battle, but click here if that doesn’t bother you and you want a good laugh.)  At any rate, July 2nd saw one of the most thrilling fights of the war on Little Round Top.  This was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Maine’s most famous victory, which he wrote about in the article “Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg.”  I highly recommend the article for how well Chamberlain immerses one in the action on that fateful day.  Also, Chamberlain stands as the greatest hero to serve in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac and is worth learning about the Battle of Little Round Top for that reason alone.

This picture commemorates the famous bayonet charge lead by Col. Joshua Chamberlain.  At the center, Chamberlain captures a Confederate at saber point whose revolver either misfired or was out of ammo when he tried to shoot Chamberlain.  Chamberlain simply said to him:

This picture commemorates the famous bayonet charge lead by Col. Joshua Chamberlain. At the center, Chamberlain captures a Confederate at saber point whose revolver either misfired or was out of ammo when he tried to shoot Chamberlain. Chamberlain simply said to him: “You are my prisoner.”

On the Will of God and Poverty of Spirit

Akatsuki no Yona, with all its talk of Tenmei–literally, “the Will of Heaven”–has got me thinking about the Will of God.  This is often difficult to determine in our lives, and I have heard one Catholic commentator state: “The Will of God is inscrutable.”  But, not everything which happens by God’s Will or permission outstretches our understanding; otherwise, we should simply not understand God in the slightest and not be able to have a relationship with Him.  In general, He commands all people to follow the moral law and exercise charity towards each other.  On a more particular level, the Will of God may be communicated to us through our talents and desires.  Do you have an extraordinary talent for the most abstract arithmetic imaginable?  Perhaps, God wishes for you to become a university professor.   Do you love someone of the opposite sex profoundly?  Do not be surprised if God wishes you to marry that person.

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Yet, desires can be a very tricky thing, and people are often mislead.  The particular Will of God for us is based in the individuality which God gave us.  It subsists in the core of our being.  Only by being true to ourselves can we be true to God and find happiness.  However, we are surrounded by many happy people in the world, and we might think that by having what they have we shall also be made happy.  Besides this, the world itself offers many things–especially money–which it claims will make us happy.  But, you cannot serve God and mammon!  The more you listen to the noise of the world the less you shall discern the whisper of God.  To one who has become too worldly, God can no longer whisper: He must shout!

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As C. S. Lewis tells us, pain is often the means by which God tells us something is wrong.  We suffer anxiety, depression, and vague feelings of unhappiness.  Should our response to these feelings be seeking worldly distractions, God may sever us forcibly from the pleasures of the world with the blade of poverty.  Impoverished, we lack the means of spoiling or distracting ourselves with external goods.  All we have left are those talents and desires which we ignored in our prosperity.  In running away from our talents, our individuality, and our specific manner of serving our brothers and sisters, we have become less human.  We struggle for a while in attempting to regain our status, but the Mercy of God prevents it while we yet ignore God’s voice and rely solely upon ourselves.  At last accepting our fate, the vanity of worldly pleasures (many perhaps good in themselves but evil when they stand in the place of God) becomes apparent and the memory of them bitter.

St. Francis of Assisi. with his father having demanded that he return everything he "stole" from him, doffed even the clothes he wore.

St. Francis of Assisi. with his father having demanded that he return everything he “stole” from him, doffed even the clothes he wore.

Despite these many pains, poverty or very frugal circumstances are not signs that God hates us.  Instead, God calls the poor blessed–both the materially poor and the spiritually poor.  The fact that religious orders often include a vow of poverty indicates the link between the two.  Why are the poor blessed?  Because they contend less with the noise of the world and focus more on the Will of God and the intrinsic goods God has given them to share with others.  The poor in spirit are capable of great things because their only concern is the Will of God.

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Though, I could use the example of many saints to show the sanctifying effects of poverty, I’d like to instead use the example of Ulysses S Grant.  Who can doubt that the man was born to be a soldier?  He was the only Union general with the competency to avoid losing ground to General Lee and the dogged tenacity to make a war of attrition successful.  The happiest times of his life coincided with his military service.  After resigning from his first period of service, he relied on the charity of his father-in-law until the outbreak of the Civil War.  After the Civil War, his name was smeared by the presiding over the most corrupt administration in history until modern times.  Afterwards, he did the unthinkable action of trying to break with Washington’s precedent in order to run for a third term!  A sore loser, Grant bore a grudge against James A. Garfield for winning the nomination–even though Garfield not only did not seek the nomination but even was horrified to gain it!

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Compared to the humble, frank, and unambitious man of prior times, Grant the politician seems a different man–a monster!  Here is a description of Grant just after the Civil war by General Richard Taylor from Destruction and Reconstruction:

The officers of the army on duty at Washington were very civil to me, especially General Grant, whom I had known prior to and during the Mexican war, as a modest, amiable, but by no means promising lieutenant in a marching regiment. He came frequently to see me, was full of kindness, and anxious to promote my wishes. His action in preventing violation of the terms of surrender, and a subsequent report that he made of the condition of the South – a report not at all pleasing to the radicals – endeared him to all Southern men…His bearing and conduct at this time were admirable, modest and generous; and I talked much with him of the noble and beneficent work before him. While his heart seemed to respond, he declared his ignorance of and distaste for politics and politicians, with which and whom he intended to have nothing to do, but confine himself to his duties of commander-in-chief of the army.

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That is exactly the man who commanded the Army of the Potomac and the one who wrote the most famous memoir of any participant in the Civil War–a memoir which a friend tells me affected modern American prose more than any other work!  (Grant’s memoirs do read like something our of the 20th century rather than the 19th.)  But, politics, power, and fame almost ruined Grant for good.  When Grant wrote his memoirs, he had been reduced to desperate poverty, which I have no doubt was God’s method of restoring Grant’s character.  The Hound of Heaven will resort to any means to prevent people baptized in His name from perishing everlastingly.

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So, people suffering from want or various forms of misery need not despair.  Pain is often the sign that one is still united to Christ Crucified and often purifies the soul to a salutary poverty.  “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”  The share of the Kingdom of God we have on earth is performing the Will of God, which, though it may be a gentle whisper, rings loud and clear to the poor in spirit.

Music for the 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

It had been my intentions to come out of the hiatus I announced today, though I could not forbear from writing again on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  My dear readers might be surprised that I keep the memory of the Battle of Gettysburg every year.  (It helps that the battle took place during the three days before Independence Day.)  Two things make me never fail to remember the battle: 1) the feats of heroism displayed from July 1 – July 3, 1863 are some of the greatest in the history of war–as befitting the turning point and bloodiest battle of the war (51,000 casualties in total) and 2) one of my ancestors died from a wound received on the third day of this battle.  I like to think that he died in Pickett’s Charge, but my father neglected to ask the circumstances from the person who told him.

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At this point, you may be curious how I intend to connect anime to the American Civil War.  There is a YouTube user who sets various pieces of old ballads and songs to original anime backgrounds.  And Lord Drako Arakis just happens to have a few for this occasion.  Some of the songs he plays can be quite bawdy or profane, and a few might not like his admonition that people who do not enjoy his songs can go into the eternal flames.  (I just find it humorous, which I think he was going for.)  But, I’ll save those for a less solemn occasion.  Here’s a song dedicated to the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, followed by another remembering Vicksberg and Gettysburg.  There is also a song with the opening music from the movie Gettysburg, but it uses steam punk pictures for its art.  Enjoy and remember Gettysburg!

 

 

 

Feeding Frenzy at the Book Sale

Hello, dear readers!  I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I used to on this website.  So, I promise a few more serious articles in the future.  At the moment, there’s a book sale going on at the Eastern Branch Public Library in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.  They shall be running this book sale until the end of this week.  After reading what I deemed a sufficient amount of Plato and a book on the Hellenistic Age, I went down to browse the books here.  On the way in, a sign saying “one dollar per bag” intrigued me.  When I asked the cashier to explain precisely what this meant, she replied that all the books I could fill in a rather large bag would cost one dollar.  In a most abrupt manner, I snatched a bag and began perusing the books.  It began with a volume of Wordsworth’s poetry and ended like this:

IMG_0562Well, three of those books I got for other people.  My sister dreams of going to Switzerland and has an interest in designs of all sorts.  Therefore, that book on how to design gardens and the one on Switzerland were for her.  Then, the picture book on Bl. Pope John Paul II was given to my grandmother.  The rest intrigued me in one way or another, and one day I intend to read them.

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The books on Tokyo, Japan, and Ireland I got for myself, thinking that one could at least walk about the streets of Akihabara, admire the cherry trees of Kyoto, and be seated in a classic Dublin pub vicariously–even if yours truly finds it doubtful that such a trip can be made any time soon.  Though, a good friend of mine also dreams of going to Japan, and it might be possible to pool together enough money in a few years.

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Some of these other books demonstrate my eclectic tastes.  I’ve always wanted to read Theodore Dreiser, if only to see why his books have been added to the list of perennials.  So, you can see Sister Carrie in the second picture.  I also love histories of war.  People show their true colors when placed in such stressful circumstances.  As Joshua Chamberlain said: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.”  So, I have a history of an American Civil War battle, WWII in the Pacific Theater, the Roman Civil War toward the end of the Republican period, and Theodore Roosevelt’s account of his actions in the Spanish-American War.  Also, I couldn’t resist adding Walter Lord’s account of the sinking of the Titanic to my collection, A Night to Remember.  I’ve also read his history of Midway.

The rest of the items on the table reflect my tastes in literature.  I’ve always loved Dryden’s wit and want to read more of him.  I picked up the Dorothy Sayers work because I want to give her another chance.  I found her writing style a bit pretentious and overly judgmental in the first work of hers I read.  If I don’t like it, I’m sure I can find someone else who will.

So, has anyone else gone on a book shopping spree lately?