Old School Film Hack

Savior of the Union


The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at the base of the Capitol
Washington, DC (March 2017)
Sony a6300 + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM

After decades of neglect, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial has finally been restored to its full glory, following more than ten years of fundraising efforts.  Birds and weathering had really done a number on it, and vandals had defaced it and made away with parts over the years, but all that has been undone.  With a long period of planning followed by two-years of careful work — the memorial was cleaned up, repaired, new parts were crafted, and everything was finally finished a few months ago.

Readers not familiar with Grant are to be forgiven if they are a bit hazy on the knowledge that he was the final Union Army general (out of four) responsible for ending the US Civil War (1861-1865) and preventing the Confederate States from splitting the Union apart.  He and his men were also given credit for keeping the Confederate forces from nearly sacking DC in 1864 (during the Battle of the Monocacy), which nearly happened a couple of other times during the conflict.

Truly — unless one actually visits some of these battlefields and other local historic sites related to the Civil War —  it’s difficult to realize just how close the fighting was to the place where I took the photograph for this post (Confederate forces could actually SEE the Capitol dome from their positions on at least one occasion).  I’ve lived in both Washington, DC (capital of the Union), and Richmond, Virginia (capital of the Confederates), and both cities are ringed with battlefields, old forts, earthworks, and other evidence of the conflict — some well-preserved and others not.  There are even some places in Richmond — which was completely destroyed by the end of the war — where the damage has never been restored, to keep as a reminder of that terrible time.

Being from Idaho (admitted as a state in 1890), I don’t have any stake in the ongoing North versus South Civil War sympathizing that goes on to this day (Think it’s the ancient past?  Think again.  The last person to receive a Civil War pension is actually still alive and you can read about her here.) — though I wish it would end, as it’s just as divisive now as it was back then.

You can read and see more about the restoration Grant memorial here, and more about the history of it here, here, and here.

11 thoughts on “Savior of the Union

    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Thanks. Good for you.

      I married into a Southern family when I was fresh out of college; it was easily the worst decision I ever made. The matron of the family constantly bemoaned the fate of their fortunes following Sherman’s March to the Sea which — as collateral damage — resulted in the destruction of their family farm (nevermind that it was her grandparent’s farm and that she wasn’t even born until decades after the fact). In her world, there was nothing worse than a Yankee and I was always under suspicion simply for having lived for a period north of the Mason-Dixon line.

      Ugh. I’m glad all of that is behind me now.


  1. David

    Glad the Grant Memorial was restored, particularly being so close to the Capitol Building.

    About the North-South divide, one of my friends, while growing up, said his family had roots on both sides. I had asked what happens when there is the big family gathering like around the holidays. He said one year his grandma laid the law down – “No more talk of what Sherman did, or what Stonewall Jackson did. None of us were around then.” When one of his uncles, grandma’s son, started to hem and haw about the new rule, she gave the ultimatum: “I’ve had enough of it,” along with a stern look. That ended it once and for all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: History is part of Exploration and Adventure | Live Free 2 Sail Fast

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