Truth is Marching
By R. D. Flavin

 
Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Charles Darwin, and Abraham Lincoln.

If a man loves his own State, therefore, and is content to be ruined with her, let us shoot him, if we can, but allow him an honorable burial in the soil he fights for.  From: “Chiefly About War Matters” By a Peaceable Man (Hawthorne 1862).

     Okay, Mr. Peabody, we’re going to set the Wayback Machine to early 1974.  I was living in Dowagiac, Michigan, attending my tenth-grade classes whenever my teen-angst pseudo-antisocial schedule permitted, and had joined a local hippy-folk singing group called Free Expression.  They’d occasionally perform at community events and out-of-town Sunday church services.  Sometimes, when the distance to the booking was too great for a leisurely morning drive, we’d have to travel the day before and be assigned private homes to bunk at over the Saturday night.  Every now and then, there’d be fellow young people at the host homes who were more than eager to ...show us a good time.  And, of course and as it goes, the Saturday evening was so wonderfully exceptional that singing on Sunday mornings with painful hangovers was a challenge both unavoidable and awkward.  I remember one morning we were singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” or, rather, trying very hard to.  Not being much of a singer outside of a shower stall, I was assigned the canon rhythm accompaniment and left the lofty lyrical verse stanzas and chorus to others.  Well, at one point, I paused to listen if I was still keeping the beat and discovered that everyone else had stopped singing for various reasons (i.e. loss of consciousness, laziness or stoner daydreaming).  It was just Rick repeatedly singing “Truth is Marching.”  Maybe there was panic, but all I’m left with is the memory of pews and pews of blue, gray, and white haired old folks complacently smiling at me as if all was good and progressing smoothly in the world.  Several knees and elbows later, after I roused the rest of Free Expression, we finished the song.  It was what it was – kids with hangovers.  I believe Will was right to pen “truth will out,” though sometimes it’s hard to keep up with our changing definitions of ‘truth’.

      Even though it’s March, I’m still processing February.  No, not St. Valentine’s Day or the day before, but rather February 12th, 2009 remains to be properly acknowledged, appreciated, and filed away.  The bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Charles Robert Darwin, FRS (1809 – 1882) is a reminder of both how far we’ve come and also how much further we must go.  It’s nice that the Roman Catholic church has stepped forward with an endorsement of Darwin’s theory of ‘natural selection’ as a significant process in biological evolution.  Yeah, there’s nothing like a group of robe wearing extraterrestrial worshipers who used to torture and burn midwives deciding now would be a good time to defend science.  However, residing in a universe with a quantum sense of humor and slathering relish on the similarity of Alfred Russel Wallace’s efforts, it’s a grand coincidence that on the same day that Susannah Darwin (née Wedgwood) gave birth to her fifth child, across the pond Nancy Hanks Lincoln gave birth to her second child, and both babes would mature to become outstanding heroes of the nineteenth century.  Darwin and Lincoln, cool!  It must be nice to share a birthday with someone; the only factoid I can easily Google™ for Dec. 31, 1957 is that Paul Anka sang "Diana" and "I Love You Baby" on American Bandstand.
    
      Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the 16th president of the United States, is most commonly remembered as the president responsible for ending slavery in America.  After leading the country through our Civil War, with more troop casualties than any other conflict in American history, he was shot a mere five days after the end of the war and died the next day.  He wasn’t the first president to die in office, though he was the first to be assassinated.  Sadly, others would follow.  Lincoln was also, however, the first candidate of the recently formed Republican Party to win a presidential election (as John Charles Frémont had lost to James Buchanan, Jr. in 1856).  One could assume that a political party with a candidate as president, especially in a time of war, would be more than willingly to support the incumbent for a second term in office, but in the case of the Republican Party and Lincoln one would be assuming incorrectly.     
  
     The Republican Party became divided on the issue of “
Reconstruction,” which was already underway before the end of Civil War on April 9, 1865.  Distrusting Lincoln, a significant splinter group of Republicans formed the “Radical Democracy” party and enlisted Frémont to be their presidential candidate for the 1864 election.  Other Republicans, along with Northern Democrats and such anti-Confederate Southerners as Andrew Johnson, united to form the National Union Party, which backed a winning ticket of Lincoln and Johnson.  Barely a decade old, the Republican Party essentially ceased to exist for several years due to infighting and basic political differences.

 
1920 construction of the Lincoln Memorial by the Piccirilli brothers and a recent pic of a little punk and a big vehicle.

      As the Western Union Telegraph Company had completed its first transcontinental system in 1861, news of the early morning April 15, 1865 death of Lincoln quickly spread across the nation and by that evening a group of private citizens in Springfield, Illinois had already announced plans to form the National Lincoln Monument Association.  Later, the Lincoln family home would be preserved as a National Historic Site, as would the cabins of his parents in Illinois and in Kentucky, where Lincoln was born.  So great was the sense of loss, supported with a deep respect, that the United States Congress authorized the incorporation of the Lincoln Monument Association on March 30, 1867, the beginning of a process which ultimately led to the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial at the western end of Washington, D.C.’s National Mall in 1922.

     Any short list of events which have occurred on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial would proudly include the Easter Day, 1939 open-air concert by Marian Anderson, the August 28, 1963 “I have a dream” speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and, ironically remarkable, the 5:00-5:55 am, May 9, 1970 unexpected meeting between Pres. Richard M. Nixon and a group of young people who were waiting to participate in a Vietnam War protest demonstration.  The Lincoln Memorial continues to assist in how America defines itself.  [Note: Toward the end of a web-page transcribing and commenting on Nixon’s press conferences on May 8 and 9, 1970 is an interesting description of the chance encounter.]

     Lincoln and Nixon were both war presidents, off-field commander-in-chiefs whose generals made immediate battlefield decisions, but also followed the specific directives and goals as given by the Office of the President of the United States of America.  America’s current chief executive, Pres. Barack H. Obama II, is also a war president and one of his army officers in Iraq has bypassed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” suggestion and come out of the common sense closet as an opportunistic and treasonous idiot.

     U.S. Army 1st. Lt. Scott R. Easterling, with several months remaining to a fifteen month tour in Iraq, has joined a publicity lawsuit and written, "I will consider him neither my Commander-in-Chief nor my President, but rather, a usurper to the Office – an imposter."  When the army recently raised its maximum enlistment age to 40, Easterling left his employment in Iraq with Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton at the time, and attended Army Officer Candidate School with the express purpose of graduating, accepting a commission, and being deployed in Iraq.  That he was annoyed with the result of the last presidential election is a moot point, as his statements exceed the borders of opinion and have certainly established an act of “conduct unbecoming an officer,” if not a more serious offense.

     At issue is a request to view a “vault copy” of Pres. Obama’s birth certificate, if such a document is still maintained by the Honolulu, Hawaii Department of Health.  Allegations of impropriety were dismissed when the Supreme Court refused without comment to hear an argument to disallow Obama’s participation in the 2008 presidential election because he is accused of not having been born an American citizen.  Then, with Republican finality, Obama was sworn in by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. on Jan 20, 2009.  Agree with them or not, but the Supreme Court’s opinion, or lack thereof, is the end of the line of our democratic system.  Next stop?  Ah, somewhat rhetorical, though probably a federal crime and likely including violence.  A U.S. Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, has said with regard to Easterling, "We are always trying to balance our . . . military requirements under the Uniform Code of Military Justice versus critical freedoms that all Americans enjoy."

     Pres. Obama took his oath of office with a hand placed on the same bible that Lincoln used at his first inauguration.  I’m proud to live in a time in which an African-American is elected president and disappointed that I was once enlisted in an army which tolerates conspiracy crackpots on the battlefield.  Handing out head-drugs to our soldiers is sad enough, but allowing a loony army officer to carry a weapon in a war-zone is a lot more dangerous than Rush Limbaugh yelling that he hopes Obama “fails” as chief executive.  Someone, please, get the weapon away from this jerk.  A recent story mentions villainous KBR, Easterling’s former employer, as not bothering to properly incinerate human remains and wild dogs being seen scurrying around with body parts between their teeth.   Easterling’s stay in the U.S. Army should either be tragically short (throw the bum out) or exceptionally long at, say, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

 
Julia Ward Howe, and the "Singing Chaplain."

     It has been said (Bristol 1908, p. 202) that when Pres. Lincoln first heard the newly released prisoner-of-war,
Chaplain Charles Cardwell McCabe (122nd  Ohio Infantry), sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” that with a tear-stained face he penned a note to an aid to pass along while yelling out from the audience, “Sing it again!”  It was Feb. 2, 1864 – Lincoln was a month away from promoting Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of Lt. General and appointing him commander of all the Union armies with instructions to be victorious at all costs.  For the next fourteen months, until the end of the Civil War and ...for several days thereafter, Lincoln’s appreciation for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” increased and a nation understood.  A dear, good man liked a pop song, took it to heart, and in his memory many remember him when they listen to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Tearing up, now; I’m good – where was I?  Right; truth is marching...

     I do not believe in truth, I know it.  Guessing is a fun hobby, however, exactitude is our laborious reward for resisting deception.  Julia Ward Howe wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a response to the American Civil War and achieved the goal of every writer – outstanding contribution.  She was in the right place, at the right time, as was Lincoln.  America is struggling to correct the last eight years of the Cheney/Bush administration and Pres. Obama is ...in the right place and at the right time.  Truth, God, science, justice, compassion, common sense, and others are marching forth and ...wait for it, freedom is life’s partner.  Deception?  A lie is a lie, is a lie, buy me a drink, and now that I’ve had a drink, a lie is still a lie.  Damn, those grapes of wrath, which are now recommended, seem to cost much more than they used to.  Ah, change...

Bibliography:
Bristol, Frank Milton.  1908.  The Life of Chaplain McCabe, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Cincinnati, OH: Jennings and
  Graham.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  1862.  “Chiefly About War Matters.”  The Atlantic Monthly, A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics.  10, 57:
  43-61.   See: http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/cawm.html.

Staying away from any lead role in a cage,
Rick

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