Thanks again to everyone who attended my presentation at Oakdale's Victorian Day yesterday #omgvictorianday2013. Thank you especially to Patty and Roger who came all the way from Rockford. It was great to see you again after meeting you in Fulton a while back! I enjoyed speaking at the Windmill Center (real name of it?); it’s a really nice place. It was also great to hear about your involvement with historical groups. Keep up the great work!
It was also great to meet Taylor and her mom. I took a peek at your profile, Taylor, and the photos of you in the cemetery are awesome! What cemetery were you in? Thanks for buying an “I
And thank you all for understanding when I totally switched gears.
When you realize in the middle of things that you're just going in the wrong (boring) direction, you have to just stop, quickly take stock in the situation, and make it right. I had reviewed my presentation on Oakdale and the Civil War from last year and made some tweaks. It had made sense at the time because all the information was correct. But here's the deal. It was boring. Very boring. I don't recall it being boring last year, and I honestly don't know why. If you've heard me speak before, boring facts and figures are not my MO. My thing is to show people my passion for cemeteries and why they are so cool. And, boy, did I start flopping.
So instead of continuing down that path, I decided not to torture the nice people in attendance (and they were really great). I took a whole new route and showed them photos from my Bonaventure Cemetery visit (in Savannah, Ga.) and talked to them about the wonders of that park. I think I redeemed myself--I hope I redeemed myself. :) At least they got to see some wonderful sculptures, especially those by artist John Walz.
After a marathon of old Cartoon Network shows thanks to Netflix, I've been watching "Death and the Civil War," the PBS documentary I've been wanting to see since it was first broadcast in September 2012 (you can find it on Netflix now). Fascinating and very sad. They read from lots of letters sent by dying soldiers and those about to go to battle who believed they would not be coming back. While a number of images and B-role cover shots are repeated (and lingered upon a little long), it's a powerful piece that is definitely worth watching. It was directed by Ric Burns, so you pretty much know what to expect from his style.
So many documentaries and books on the Civil War focus on the battles and strategies or the politics and political figures of the time. This film highlights the effects of the war regarding the dead, and it is eye-opening as well as very interesting. I've done a lot of reading on the Civil War and Lincoln and, of course, cemeteries, but I learned quite a few things from this documentary. I think we've all seen the photos of dead soldiers on the fields, which are heart-breaking. But I don't recall seeing the images of skeletons and skulls on the battle fields. Those solders were left on the fields, unburied, so long that all that was left were bones and the tatters of their uniforms. That was shocking, though it is understandable. When there was no plan for caring for the dead--and thousands of soldiers died during any given battle--what would you do? You couldn't put the war on hold to properly care for the dead. How deeply and horribly sad.
I think the reason so many of us are compelled to keep reading and researching the Civil War is because there are so many human layers to it. The reasons the war was fought ... the fact that we fought against ourselves ... that brothers fought brothers ... that women assumed the identities of men in order to fight ... that black men weren't allowed to fight for the longest time in a war that was truly about them and the rights they should have had all along ... the extreme losses this country and our people suffered ... the most brilliant president our country has known ... how women, who would have even fewer rights that free black men, stepped up during the war and after it ... how the war changed views on death ... how it changed views on life.
As a review, I give "Death and the Civil War" 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely recommend it.
I'm the founder and editor of TheCemeteryClub.com and Epitaphs Magazine. I love cemeteries and sharing the art and history of them with anyone who will listen!