Matthew Sanders: Gettysburg teaches the importance of taking and holding high ground

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  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    July 5, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    If anyone thinks that children's futures, abortion, etc. aren't worth the 'high' ground, then whatever else is being talked about is not worthy of my time. As in the days of the revolution, when only half supported independence, the true patriots in this day will also be tried. Children are worth the fight.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    July 4, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    Great story but bad analogy. War analogies are not appropriate for politics. Right and wrong, black and white rarely applies in political discussion, unless you are a member of an extremist group.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 3, 2013 5:22 p.m.

    "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
    Gettysburg Address 1863

    All men are created equal.

    As a Nation we continually struggle with that concept.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    July 3, 2013 4:38 p.m.

    I don't think of substance abuse and loose morals when I read of 50,000 men that died over slavery.

    I think of the fact that if they had loved their brothers as themselves there would have been no slavery and 50,000 casualties.

    This letter is obviously a longing for some long lost southern "conservative" values. I am both disgusted and disagree with the author's premise and comparison.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 3, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    I was looking at some of the pictures of flooding along the bow and highwood rivers in Alberta. That's when you want to take and hold high ground.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 3, 2013 1:07 p.m.

    I think the lessons again to be learned is the power of the individual to be heroic, to make decisions that impact the world for the ages. It would have been easy for both Buford and Chamberlain to retreat instead of making the crucial decisions they did. As one who studies history, their decisions helped the Union win this battle and by winning this battle probably the entire Civil War. Buford would later die during the war but after the war Chamberlain kept leading the way as a governor and educator.

    I have no idea what the "moral high ground" is on many issues but I do believe in the power of the individuals.

    I think also one omission from the movie Gettysburg was the calvary battle that happened during Pickett's charge. If one knows this, then Lee's decision to attack the center of the union line is not seen as pure lunacy. The idea was for Stuart's cavalry to strike the union center from behind but of course they never made it because of Custer. Then the direct assault at Pickett's charge was indeed futile and catastrophic to the Confederacy.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 3, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    @DN Subscriber 2 – “Anyone wanting to learn more about Gettysburg and especially Chamberlain, simply MUST read "Killer Angels."

    Agreed! And I would also recommend Shelby Foote’s book – he was the southern gentleman historian interviewed throughout the Ken Burns film. The book (three books actually) is long but it reads like a novel and his chapter on Gettysburg is outstanding.


    Kind of you to say… thanks.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    July 3, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    Shakespeare also spoke of the High Ground and I am sure many of the educated officers, both Blue and Gray knew King Henry's speach to his troops and roused their troops with his words

    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    July 3, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    I and my family were there serendipitously on July 3, 2000. We saw enactors come out of the day's low hanging fog, in period costumes by the "Angle". If there are such things as Ghosts I would expect to see them there on that day. Studying the battle, there were so many Ifs as to boggle the mind. Had Longstreet's 3,000 strong Calvary charge into the rear of the Union line not been broken up by George A. Custer couple hundred calvary, Coinciding with Pickett's charge the battle outcome may have ended much differently. The take away from my visit was, quoting from Henry the 5th was there was a "Royal fellowship of Death" that day. Robert E. Lee said it best with "It is a good that War is such a terrible thing. lest we grow too fond of it".

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    July 3, 2013 11:28 a.m.

    Anyone wanting to learn more about Gettysburg and especially Chamberlain, simply MUST read "Killer Angels." It is solid history (classed as fiction mostly because of the invented dialogue) and a superb analysis of leadership as well as human behavior. It is on the Marine Corps reading list for all ranks, and won a Pulitzer prize.

    Red the book, then visit the battlefield.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    July 3, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    @tyler d
    I truly think that was the most reasoned and thoughtful comment I have ever read on these threads.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 3, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Oh please!

    Do we always have to equate the most trivial struggles of the human condition to full scale war?

    And please realize the minute your take this stance and all that goes with it (us vs. them thinking, demonizing the enemy, claiming God is on your side) you usually force your opponent (out of sheer survival) to defend themselves with the same stance.

    This country was built on conversation and compromise and the Civil War was the one time in our history when conversation failed because each side was so entrenched in their own ideas (and thought God was on their side) and unwilling to compromise.

    Fortunately today we only have one side taking this stance… God help us if the other side decides to join them in their intransigency.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    July 3, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    Xert: Somehow I'm thinking your 'high' ground is not his 'high' ground. East is east and west is west and soon the twain shall meet. The 'high' ground in this battle is for children, children raised by a mother and father. There is no middle ground.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 3, 2013 11:04 a.m.

    One can argue that the actions of these two men (Buford and Chamberlain) saved our country. Individuals can make a difference at key moments in time.

  • Mark B Eureka, CA
    July 3, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    I'm always suspicious of attempts to claim high moral ground by stating that a long past event applies to something completely unrelated today. If you're not happy with things, just say so, and why. Leave history to the historians.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    July 3, 2013 10:16 a.m.

    Couldn't agree more. Another good example is how the advocates of marriage equality stood on the moral high ground of freedom and justice and simply stared down opponents. The Prop 8 zealots came charging with rebel yell like fury and in the end, they were chaistened, humbled and defeated. The Supreme Court of the United States said so. You can look it up!

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    July 3, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    There are some other lessons to learn, too.

    One is the value of good communication. Each side had a division that simply missed the battle because they didn't get word until it was over. The Confederates would have won the battle on Day One if they had advanced into the town of Gettysburg, but they stopped short. The Union would have shortened the war if they had pursued the Confederates as they were leaving, instead of just letting them depart. The war could have ended, but it didn't.

    Another is the value of correct intelligence. Local citizens told each army what they wanted to hear, not what was really happening. As a result, some decisions were based upon poor assumptions.

    There is a book by Edwin Coddington called "The Gettysburg Campaign - A Study in Command" that details every aspect of the battle. It is 574 pages of text with another 292 of references, notes, bibliography and index. In my view, the saddest part is the last line, describing the failed campaign by each side in some respect, which says "And so the war went on."