In the past few days Ennie and I were sitting, enthralled, at the Ken Burns documentary of the Civil War.
When I was in grade school the war was covered in simply a series of dates and battles. The battles were the name of a city and a the side which was the victor.
The documentary and other resources I’ve seen in the past break things down. The battle isn’t a winner and a loser and the casualties on each side.
Each casualty is a man. Each battle is a series of maneuvers by the troops. Each campaign is a series of battles. Each campaign is a strategy though up by the generals. Each general is a man.
A friend of mine at Insurance.com, John, pointed me to a site a while back: CivilWarAnimated.com that breaks each of the major skirmishes down. Sometimes it zooms to the point where you see streets of a city.
Those streets still exist.
Breaking down the war puts things in a new perspective. The documentary with all of the letters and photography furthers that. War is personal to all those men and women that were involved. The war wasn’t the overarching construct we now see it as — it was a series of personal experiences, all of which are different.
The war wasn’t glamorous. In the end it was two generals, both geniuses, playing a grand chess game. Playing for keeps.
War today is no different. History will be written (and I’m sure is being written) about the details of Iraq and Afghanistan. Each man or woman lost had a past. Each has a future that was cut short. Each a personal struggle. Each part of a platoon. Each platoon a part of a company. Each company a part of a regiment. Each regiment part of a division. And so on up the line until you get to the commander of the armed forces.
We look at things in broad brush-strokes. The details of that painting are the people. The people that are sacrificing themselves for the cause they are sent in for.
Sorry for not breaking apart some technology this week… I’m too engrossed in the history on a microscopic perspective. I promise to break something next week. :-)