“I love the Union and the Constitution, but I would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in the Union without it.” – Jefferson Davis
April 9th, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in the front parlor of a farmhouse in Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. This event set off the chain of surrenders that swept across the South, thus indicating the end of the Civil War. This made me think about my own Civil War I fight every single day.
I’ve always enjoyed learning about The Civil War because I feel as though I walk around with a Robert E. Lee and a Ulysses S. Grant waging war inside me. I fight against what my heart feels and my head thinks every single day. Every once in a while they meet just like the real ones did and call a truce. It can be for one hour, one day, or one week, but truces never last. The Civil War continues on. No one notifies the rest of the troops, so the battles never cease.
Robert E. Lee for me symbolizes the general for my heart. Lee lived in the South, however originally his desire was to see the Union intact. He fought for the exact opposite on principle. My heart is the same way. Because it is my heart, it tends to make decisions for me without bothering to ask my brain what the best plan would be, but my heart always has the best intentions. After all, it is my heart. Lee lost the war, but what he really wanted was peace and harmony back. Hearts are like that.
Ulysses S. Grant is symbolic of my brain. My brain can make a deal with the Devil to make the March to the Sea happen and burn every metaphorical Atlanta on the way. My brain is strategic. It has excellent leading capabilities, just like U.S. Grant. It has iron will. Stubborn to a fault, my brain will argue with the strongest arguments it can come up with. My brain is sometimes completely and utterly wrong. Does that mean my brain will stop spewing words out of my mouth faster than it can filter them? The answer is absolutely not. Grant won the war, but there was a lot of collateral damage and Reconstruction took years.
Could the South have won? Perhaps, but it doesn’t all boil down to leadership. It comes down to decisions. Some decisions the generals made, but other decisions were out of either general’s control and belonged to other people to make. Many battles were fought prior to that surrender 150 years ago. I’m sure there were several times Lee probably felt like the best thing to do was surrender. Other times I’m positive Lee felt the best thing to do was fight as hard as he could for a cause he deemed worthy enough to die for.
Have you ever believed in something so much you’d be willing to die for it? When your heart and your head agree on opposing sides and they both are willing to sink the ship to win the war, who wins? Can there be a winner? Is a truce within ourselves ever really a truce, or is it just a lie we tell ourselves to get us through another day so we can wake up the next day with enough energy to fight again? There are always casualties of war, and sadly either way, it’s me going down with a fight.