Remembering and Forgetting (or Ignoring): The Sesquicentennial

One of the most memorable (and oft-cited) observations contained in David W. Blight’s Race and Reunion is that the notion of historical memory is as much about forgetting as it is about remembering. The recent discussion about the fate of the Sesquicentennial post-Gettysburg (see an interesting view from Robert Moore) as well as what we remember and forget about Gettysburg itself (see this fine and typically thoughtful post by John Hennessy) serve to remind us of something that has struck me in the past months about Sesquicentennial memory.

I have heard it declared by several people (including some good friends) that this is not your grandfather’s Civil War Centennial. I would hope not, for all sorts of reasons. Yet by now that observations has become trite and not a little self-congratulatory … and we might want to subject it to some critical thought. Continue reading