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Fort Sumter 150 Years Ago 

 

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April 12, 2011 marks 150 years since the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of our American "Civil War."

 

We do not celebrate this event.  A war in which 600,000 Americans died is not to be celebrated, but it must be remembered.

 

We remember the sense of service demonstrated by those associated with The Citadel.  Of the college’s 224 graduates at the time, 204 joined the conflict.  We cannot hope to know why each fought, but we can respect how they performed their duties.

 

We remember the freedom of African American slaves, paid for dearly because it was worth so much.

 

We remember the families, separated and destroyed by war.

 

We remember the damage done to our Charleston, a lasting legacy of war’s true cost.


The Civil War is like a wound that has healed, though imperfectly.  We still are pained by the issues that fired passions to the point that brother fought brother at places like Antietam, Bull Run, and Gettysburg.  We are all familiar with these battle names but are hard-pressed to imagine the loss of life.  It was like no other war, for the casualties were doubled – Americans fought on both sides.

 

We have moved forward since then.  Our country has become the mightiest nation on the planet while striving to preserve the principles memorialized by the Founding Fathers.  But our journey is not over.  We recall this moment in Charleston Harbor to recommit ourselves to those same principles.  Today, as then, we will not speak with one voice on how best to secure them, but we cherish the freedom that gives all voices the right to be heard.

 

At The Citadel let us take equal measures of pride in our heritage and in our contribution to the future.  As we have done since 1843, we are preparing the next generation of principled leaders for the Lowcountry, for South Carolina, and for America.

 

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