“Revising” history? A new historical marker for Sherman’s March

A new historical marker has gone up in Atlanta, and it is raising questions about historical “revisionism” and how events in the past– especially destructive and emotionally-fraught events, such as Sherman’s March to the Sea– how remembered and memorialized, how they are — literally– set in stone for the future.  ALTJPATLANTA1-articleLarge

“There’s still a strong resentment for what happened and how it happened and for Sherman himself,” Dr. James C. Cobb said. “They want to whitewash everything and make it so much nicer than it was. It wasn’t nice. War isn’t.

“You all the time run into college kids who don’t know which side Sherman was on — and their parents and certainly their grandparents would be aghast to know that. It’s not just a matter of education. It’s a matter of being the blank slate that younger generations present for revision or education that older generations don’t because they’re steeped in the mythology of their ancestors.”

A Weapon Seen as Too Horrible, Even in War

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A Weapon Seen as Too Horrible, Even in War – NYTimes.com.

As America and the president and Congress debate the reaction to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, this is a particularly timely example of the “uses of the past”– on the history and legacy of chemical warfare, with special attention to its horrific use during World War I.

Gas attacks are not pretty–not in Syria, not on the battlefields of Europe in 1918-19.  The use of chlorine gas by Germans against their enemies was widely condemned, and remains one of the most enduring memories of World War I.

 

 

In the Texas Plant Explosion, History Repeats Itself – NYTimes.com

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This op-ed piece from the Times re: the West, Texas explosion, is a perfect example of bringing historical lessons to bear (or, rather, NOT bringing them) on present events and future choices:

“The explosion in West, which killed at least 14 people, is now entering a dark pantheon of events in Texas, ones that will surely lead to debates in the state about government regulation and oversight — or the lack thereof. About what “public safety” really means, implies, entails. About Texas’ passionate history of pushing back at what some see as big-government intrusion — a trend that traces back to the regulation-free days of wildcatting in the oil patches.

As before, there will be demands that Texas be willing to scrutinize companies so tragedies like the one in West never occur again. But if history is any guide, lawmakers and officials will still err on the side of industry and less so on the side of public safety. And there will be another West in the years to come.”

via In the Texas Plant Explosion, History Repeats Itself – NYTimes.com.