Category Archives: Veterans

Stanton Post, GAR – Angeles Rosewood Cemetery

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.15.54 PMGreetings all – today I went to visit the Stanton Post, Grand Army of the Republic cemetery plot at the Angeles Rosewood Cemetery in Los Angeles. One of the older area cemeteries, I found it to retain its antiquated (for LA) charm, but also thought it in need of drastic attention. The grounds are overgrown and the lawns dead in many areas, and a great deal of the stones and monuments are in a grim state of disrepair. This is especially the unfortunate condition of the veterans’ plot – consecrated by the Stanton Post, GAR in 1908. Here rest Union veterans of the Civil War and United States soldiers from the subsequent Indian Wars and the War with Spain in 1898.

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By the way, this is an integrated plot, something that cannot be said of the other early-twentieth century cemeteries in the area.

With compliments,

Keith

National Park Ranger Beth Parnicza on “Going Back”

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 10.16.41 AMGreetings!

I’ve just finished watching Beth Parnicza’s talk on Civil War veterans and their post-war battlefield excursions. The talk, which took place on February 7, 2015, is part of the Gettysburg National Military Park Winter Series. The whole collection is available to watch on the GNMP Youtube channel.

Considering that the primary focus of my research for the past decade or so has been Civil War veterans and what they had to say when they thought about and discussed the war later in life – and particularly what they said on the battlefields where they had once faced war’s grim certainties – I found this talk notably engaging. Ms. Parnicza does a magnificent job of discussing veterans’ vivid memories of battle: death, smell, and in particular,  ghosts. She notes with well-studied and informed accuracy the emotions on display – and indeed how many veterans returning to the places of carnage seemed nearly overwhelmed with grief when acknowledging the sacrifices of their fallen comrades. Most importantly, as she points out, they used these opportunities to say goodbye to those with whom they had fought alongside – and, as it turns out…against.

Parnicza’s talk centers on the battlefields of the Wilderness region of Virginia and looks almost entirely at veterans’ gatherings of the mixed variety – meaning, she discusses “reunions” where representatives from both Union and Confederate armies  commemorated the fields together. On these occasions, one in attendance would scarcely have heard mention of treason, tyranny, or accusatory statements concerning the perversions of the original intentions of the founding generation – and perhaps only the occasional nod to emancipation and progress. These gatherings were “love feasts” dedicated to reconciliation, where veterans made sure to reject bitterness and the divisive issues of war. Rather, they honored sacrifice, heroism, fortitude, and commitment.

At least for the veterans discussed in this lecture, Parnicza is right on target. Mixed gatherings rarely emphasized contention precisely because most thought it tawdry at best to verbally attack, criticize, or ridicule former enemies now that the questions of war had been settled by shot and shell – and especially since the former enemies in question were sitting in the speaker’s presence. After all, former Rebels  were hosting Union men on Virginia soil – and doing so quite graciously. To reopen wounds of war would have been rude, so to speak, for either side. Still, I believe that a comparison with other veteran events would have served this talk well – and in fact helped to illustrate the point that such mixed meetings around the Wilderness were exceptional – and thus worthy of especial discussion.

For example, veterans attending gatherings throughout the rest of the nation – the ones other than the rare “Blue-Gray” type – were far less inclined to put aside contentious war issues. In fact, remembering what inspired them to fight in the first place was most often the very point of veterans coming together in commemoration. And as they aged, their voices grew even stronger. Forgetting the war’s causes and consequences – combative as they might be –  was the farthest thing from veterans’ minds.

This aside, Parnicza’s talk  offers much – in ways that I have discounted over the years – concerning the subtleties of reconciliation in terms of mutual sacrifice. Take the time to watch this excellent presentation – posted below – and then let’s talk.

With compliments,

Keith

PS – B.P., should you happen to read this post, thanks for the book shout out 🙂 You have included me in good company.

 

Happy Veterans Day!

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.04.39 AMPictured above is my father (left), Michael Sidney Pilgreen – USN c. 1963 and my uncle (right), Jimmy Carl Harris – USMC c. 1958.

Dad served  out his hitch and went on to cause all sorts of trouble. Trust me, he had some good stories. He passed in 1998. Rest in peace.

Uncle Jim served in Viet Nam and retired from the Corps a sergeant major after Desert Storm. Now he’s an old Marine and an author living in Birmingham, Alabama 🙂 Semper Fi!

To all the vets out there…SALUTE!

With compliments,

Keith