Joined in respect at the cemetery
Our Civil War teaches lessons still, important ones about honor, sacrifice and the price of freedom for all. Teachers and re-enactors created a dynamic civics classroom at San Lorenzo Park on May 12th. The students of Chalone Peaks Middle School entered it with energy and intelligence. They emerged with experiences they’ll remember their entire lives, experiences that will be the seeds of good citizenship. We began our day at King City Cemetery by honoring Civil War veterans buried there. Students read “Shiloh”, a great poem by Herman Melville. President Lincoln offered remarks about the difficult, crucial service the soldiers rendered. A rifle volley and taps ended our ceremony. We then marched on to battles, seminars and the Gettysburg Address.
Dave Park took great photos of the day. Please enjoy his work and the efforts of our students.
On the march
Honoring those who served
Pickett’s charge on the 3rd day of Gettysburg
Meeting the charge
Joined hands at war’s end
Some stories fight, bite and scratch while you’re writing them. Billy Starbuck was one of these, dragging me through a dozen rewrites. It’s published at last, however! I thank Ty Drago, managing editor of Allegory E-zine, for working with me on it. Also, I tip my hat to Herman Melville, from whom I still gather inspiration. Great echoes from Moby Dick lend substance to Billy. Thanks, Herman!
Shiloh Church – “the log-built one”
Herman Melville never knew that he was one of America’s greatest writers and would become a world literary figure. Disappointed by the poor reception his novels initially received, he became a customs inspector and turned his literary focus to poetry. He expected to be remembered, if at all, as a poet. Moby Dick insured that this would never happen.
Melville volunteered in hospitals during the Civil War. His experiences with the wounded – their suffering and their bravery – greatly influenced him and resulted in some great American poems. One of these is Shiloh.
I’ve created some activities (common core, of course!) for teachers to use with students when they consider this poem. I’m pleased with what I’ve made and hope that the structures I’ve provided will open Shiloh for young people. It’s a good poem and needs to be read. It’s message of reconciliation and sharing of common ground is one Americans need to ponder. Here’s a link to my plans:
This unit was endorsed by the Civil War Trust Teachers Regiment, by the by.