Appomattox County prides itself on being a symbol of the end of the Civil War. When you cross the county line, you are greeted by a large maroon sign with Lee & Grant facing one another. Underneath them are the words: Where Our Nation Reunited–a moving sentiment.
This same idea is reinforced when you visit the battlefield, where the park rangers emphasize the “reconciliation” that Lincoln wanted for the nation & the “reconstruction” was came into being after he was assassinated. This presentation of honor & mutual desire for peace went a long way towards influencing how I experienced the battlefield.
Which is why the donation box in the visitor’s center puzzled me.
Right inside the door of the visitor’s center was a large plastic box inviting donations from the visitors. But, for all the talk of reunion & respect, this box was purposefully divided up into 50 compartments, one for each state. The year the state became a part of America was listed under the name. I just stared, trying to make sense of the incongruity, when two guys came up behind me.
“How’s California doing?” one said to the other, “Alright! Got a couple of dollars. What about Kansas?”
The other leaned past me, searching, “Damn. Empty.” California guy laughed & they both walked off without putting anything in.
I pulled two dollars out of my purse & you can be sure I put one in Virginia (for me) & one in New Jersey (for my husband). I walked away feeling vindicated. Why is that?