Civil War veterans moved past conflict -- F. W. Nagle

September 3, 2017 GMT

Because I’m 88 years old, I have done something few living Americans have: I have spoken personally with veterans of the American Civil War.

The occasion was in a St. Louis railroad station in 1938 when my mother and I were travelling. In the station, I met several Union veterans in blue uniforms who were either going to or returning from the 75th reunion encampment at Gettysburg held by the Grand Army of the Republic. I was only nine at the time, but I recall speaking to a Union veteran who told me he was 99. Also in the station were a handful of Confederate veterans in gray, since the GAR had invited their southern counterparts to attend the event.

We are now squabbling over Confederate memorials like statues and graves. The Union soldiers at Appomattox in 1865 got it right when they invited their defeated enemies to share their rations. We get it wrong 152 years later when we do not even wish to share memories.

F. W. Nagle, Madison