Mystory: Community

Well the time has come for the last mystory assignment of English 1000. Overall, I think these writings have lead to a great deal of self-reflection. They have also lead me back to strategic thinking with an academic mindset, instead of a tactical one, due to relating the mystory back to the Civil War and finding connections between both. As far as this final chapter in my series, I think Community has the greatest possibility of expansion from the original topic. I find myself today is a strange spot when I think of community.

To begin talking about I lived in Columbia about ten years ago, then moved to Lee’s Summit, MO. I attended schools in the neighboring Blue Springs School District. I never really felt at home in either city or community. I moved from Columbia late in my high school career, and it was a very rough change. At the time I had grown very fond of Columbia. I had a good tight knit circle of friends, had been driving long enough to get my bearing on the city and I enjoyed the school that I attended. When my family told me that we were moving it hit hard. The transition to Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs South the following fall was hard to say the least. I had to learn where I fit in again, meet new people and try to basically start my life over. The school had different rules, different social groups, and I had to start from scratch fitting in. I did not feel like I was a part of the Blue Springs community, nor that of the Lee’s Summit community. I felt like my soul was stuck in a different place, which made it that much harder to connect with the people of my new community. As I spent more time at the new school, and met new people I began to start to fit into a group of people, and life started to continue on like it always does, but I still missed Columbia. I came out from time to time to hang out with old friends, but it was never for long term and I eventually grew apart from my old friends. I still felt attached to Columbia however.

Eventually I moved from the suburbs of Kansas City to the actual city, near the neighborhood of Westport. I enjoyed living the city life for a while, but eventually was able to make it into the Marine Corps. The journey began in San Diego, California for me. It took me to the east coast in North Carolina for about six months, and eventually back to California. I fell in love with Southern California once I arrived. Whether being a bum on the beach in San Diego or driving along the multitudes of highways in Los Angeles county trying to find a beloved In N Out, I felt somehow at home.There are so many people that you can always find like-minded people to hang out with, or new people with new points of views and attitudes to discover. This led me to one of the hardest decisions I have had to make. Stay in California to attend school, or return to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri.

Well, unless you stumbled randomly upon my blog, you know that the answer to the question was that I returned to Missouri. The main reason that I returned was the cost of tuition, and the veteran’s benefits in Missouri, as opposed to California. The University of Missouri is also one of the best schools in the country for veterans. There is a dedicated Veteran’s Center, as well as grant money allocated specifically for veterans to have free tutoring. I also qualify for the Missouri returning Heroes Act, which helps to reduce my per-credit hour tuition. This is just the modern aspect of a school that has been linked to veterans since before the Civil War.

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When you look around campus at students walking around you typically see a diverse blend of every background from religion to race to hair color to style. One common thread is people are generally in a hurry, moving fast with headphones in trying to make it to class on time. This leads me to believe that most students walk by the various monuments and historical buildings and structures on campus, oblivious to their meaning, history and relation. You can actually start back before the Civil War. Construction on Academic Hall was begun in 1840 and concluded with the dedication in 1843. (umcspace.missouri.edu) Academic Hall was the original main building of the campus, and it was built with bricks and limestone mined and fired here in Central Missouri. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Hall) It housed Union soldiers during the Civil War and was used as a prison for captured Confederates. During the war many volumes of books from the original library, also housed in Academic Hall, were used to start fires for the Union troops. In 1892 there was an electrical fire, caused by faulty wiring used for light bulbs, which caused Academic Hall to burn down. This left one of the most iconic symbols of Mizzzou…. The Columns.

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This isn’t the only relation between the University and the Civil War. The Missouri Tigers, long before they defended the Kansas Jayhawks from scoring on the gridiron, were a militia group that was started to defend Columbia against the anti-slave guerillas from Kansas known as the Jayhawkers. (www.mcwm.org) Missouri was introduced to the nation as a slave state in 1819 (www.history.com). Our neighbor to the west, Kansas, was a free state. This led to bloody battles between the two states, which began in the 1840’s and culminated with the Civil War. This violent hostility eventually ended, but one of the longest rivalries in college sports was born. The Border War between MU and KU lasted from 1899 till 2012, when Missouri left the Big 12 Conference and entered the SEC. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_War) While the official rivalry may be over, I still continue my personal hatred of the Jayhawks, KU and basically Kansas in general. I can imagine this sentiment exists in many of the students, faculty and alumni of Mizzou to this day. Thousands of students walk beneath the archway at Memorial Union every day, and those that know a bit of it’s history will remove their hats out of respect. I can also believe that many do not because they don’t understand the significance of the gesture. Construction for Memorial Union began in 1921. It is a memorial built for the 116 Mizzou students, staff and alumni who died in WW1. As you walk under the arch, you can look up and see the names of the 116 fallen forever etched into the stone of the walkway.(www.mizzou.com) Memorial Union now houses a memorial to remember all Missouri fallen, from WW1 to present.

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When I moved back to Columbia from California I think I was expecting to feel like I was back home. I was halfway hoping that I would be able to gain back what I felt I lost in high school. Columbia has changed substantially since I moved, and so have I. I have done a lot of growing up since I left, and upon return I feel once again like I am on the outside looking in. However, when I am on campus I feel at home. I feel like I am part of the community of the University of Missouri, that somehow my past melds with my present well here. I am a student veteran, a student of my college, CAFNR, and I can finally root for the Tigers as a student, not just a resident of Columbia. As much as I feel at home on campus, the city surrounding it has changed so much that I no longer feel at home. I miss California, the highways, the entertainment, and the people. I am considering transferring to the University of California, San Diego for my junior year, but I still have my suspicions. What if I move back and its more of the same? What if I feel as disconnected with that community as I d with my current one? I know that if I stay in Columbia to finish my degree I will leave with a great education. The same can be said for UCSD. If I do decided to move there is no second chance. One thing I know for certain is that as I progress in life and finish my education I want to move forward. Find a new home, a new community. I have learned that I should always move forward, because when you go back to the past, especially to a place you have loved, that it will never be the same.

Works Cited

  1. http://umcspace.missouri.edu/historic/buildings/AcademicHall/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Hall)
  3. http://www.mcwm.org/history_mizzoukansas.html
  4. http://www.history.com/topics/missouri-compromise
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_War_(Kansas–Missouri_rivalry)
  6. http://www.mizzou.com/s/1002/index.aspx?pgid=322
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This semester is drawing to a close and I am reflecting back on the course topic. I have read a lot about the Civil War, as most of the class should have as well. I think that I have a new-found understanding of the South’s opinion of the Civil War, the Confederate flag and of the reasons behind the fighting, particularly slavery. I also think that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War also shows that, even though it has been over for a century and a half, the emotional scarring is still being felt. This makes me reflect, as usual, on my own military experience. I have always had a lot of respect for the veterans, and I know that in our society the effects of war, particularly Vietnam, are still felt. That being said, I don’t believe that there will be a lingering emotional burden felt by our grandchildren’s grandchildren like those of the men who fought in the Civil War. I think that a lot of the wounds, seen and unseen, of the modern day wars that have been fought this century are quicker to heal. World War II veterans have returned to Japan and Europe, to old battlefields where their friends died over a half a century ago. Even the presidential hopeful John McCain returned to Vietnam, where he was tortured and starved as a POW for years. In the past decade after 9/11 there are men returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, myself among them. I know that a lot of us don’t care as much about the reason we went to war, the justifications behind it or any of the politics involved for that matter. I just want to get my education and move on with my life. I think this may say something about the Civil War and why it has such lingering effects. I can’t imagine how hard it was for the veterans of the Civil War to return home, especially to Virginia, Georgia or Pennsylvania; States where the bodies of dead comrades could still easily be pulled out of the earth. This is part of the reason why I believe it must have been so hard on the South and the former Confederates. They basically had to return to their homes completely beaten and feeling hopeless. I think that is one of the biggest reasons that there is so much pain still felt by the descendants of the Civil War veterans. American men fought the Civil War on American soil. We can’t escape it nor put it in the back of our minds to forget about it like we can with Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor can we visit the people who we fought, like the Vietnam War or WWII, because the battle was fought here and the soldiers have long since died. I think that this is why there will always be a rift in the south and there will always be a struggle. At least that is until the South rises again, like so many southerners like to say.

                                    

MyStory #3: Entertainment

            Entertainment in the United States is something that is ever changing. What is popular on the radio today may not be played next month. Actors can appear on television as children and never be seen again once they hit puberty. Even children’s games change as time evolves, based on what is popular. My parents may have played cowboys and Indians or astronauts while I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Pokemon. So with these facts in mind I have been wracking my brain trying to think of how our modern entertainment, lead by smart phones, computers, video games and electronic books, has anything to do with the Civil War. Initially I began to think that I would go with the theme of music. Everyone loves music right? As I began to think of this I started thinking how, if a Civil War soldier were to listen to my iPod, I don’t think they would enjoy it quite as much as I do. In fact, I think that the aforementioned soldier would probably have a hard time understanding half of what he is hearing, and the parts that he could understand he would find completely vulgar and distasteful. So I continued to think on it and eventually I came upon another topic.

                                              canelo-mayweather-punch

America can’t agree on many things these days. Case in point would be the government shutdown two weeks ago. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_ States_federal_government_shutdown_of_2013) One thing we can agree on, however, is that America loves sports. Whether its freezing our tails off at an outdoor football game in the dead of winter, or watching a game on television we come together to rally around our favorite teams and to dish out the most belittling insults we can come up with to our opponents and their fans. Many Americans eat, sleep and breath sports. Many fans follow their favorite teams religiously, some going as far as to call off of work when their team takes a hard loss. With all the sports that are available everyone tends to have a favorite. I tend to have different favorite sports to watch depending on the season and situation. I love boxing; it is my favorite sport by far. It is also one of the most expensive sports to attend live. At this year’s biggest fight, Floyd Mayweather’s split decision victory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the cheapest seats in the house were around $800. I think that paying $50 to watch the fight on pay per view is a steal. There are some sports that I like to watch live, like Mizzou college football, while some sports I do prefer to watch on television, such as basketball.  There is one sport in particular that I cannot stand to watch on television: Baseball. Baseball is just one sport that can’t seem to hold my attention on screen. That being said there really is nothing like going to a baseball game.

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The crack of the bat, the crowd scrambling to get a foul ball, the shout of vendors screaming “peanuts, peanuts, peanuts” or “cold beer here” cannot be translated through the television to the audience.  Basically, there is nothing like going to a baseball game. To those who have never gone I suggest you check out the Royal’s stadium; great seats, cheap tickets and food and easy parking. Baseball is called “America’s Pastime.” This phrase, coined in 1856 by the New York Mercury newspaper (http://www.mediapost.com) is actually older than the civil war. My brother and I played baseball as kids, so did my dad and if my grandpa was alive to ask I bet he would say that he played as well. Baseball is older than the two other major American sports, basketball and football. In fact baseball is essentially intertwined with the civil war.

abner

There are many baseball historians who believe that, without the Civil War, the game (known at the time as “New York” style baseball, as there were many forms of the game) would have never grown in popularity in the US. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ History_of_ baseball) The men who fought would often use baseball as a relaxing way to spend their downtime between battles and marches. In fact, the generals who commanded them would encourage the games to be played as a way to boost morale (www.pacivilwartrails.com) Baseball is so intertwined with the Civil War that some of the history I couldn’t make up. When the Civil War started the game that is now modern baseball was very rarely played in the South. (www.mcwm.org) American legend places the birthplace of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, where the current baseball museum and hall of fame are located.  (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Baseball…) The story goes that Union General Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY in 1839. Unfortunately for him this myth was later debunked, although Abner Doubleday is still commonly known as the inventor of modern baseball. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Doubleday_myth) What is not a myth, however, is that the same Abner Doubleday fired the first shots of the Union army at the battle of Ft. Sumter. He was the second in command on the fort, and when the battle began he was ordered to open fire at the rebel troops bombarding the fort. Gen Doubleday would go on to command a corps of troops in the battle of Gettysburg as well. (http://www.history.com)

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To play baseball while on the move between battles or at far away forts the troops would take walnuts, wrap them tightly with yarn until they got the size of a ball, then they would take horsehide and wrap the ball with the hide and stitch them up. One such baseball was found at the battle of Shiloh, where a game was played by troops before the battle began. (http://www.slate.com) The troops would take branches from trees and carve them into bats. Some were lucky enough to have real bats delivered to their camps. (www.pacivilwartrails.com) As I mentioned before, southern troops by in large had not been exposed to baseball before the Civil War. Once the war started to get larger and more troops began to get involved there were prisoners of war taken on both sides. The majority of Civil War POW camps were not horrific like the stories told of Andersonville. The Union troops that were held in the south would play the game in captivity and the guards would catch on, sometimes forming competing teams of guards. (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com) The same went for the Northern prison camps as the southern prisoners caught on to the game and began to play amongst themselves. This is how many historians believe that baseball was spread and became a national sport, instead of just regional to New York.

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As I said before watching a baseball game on television is not nearly as visceral to me as watching in person. The sounds, smells and tastes of the game cannot be translated onto the television screen. You also can’t get the feel for the game by playing it on a video game. This makes me think that the there must have been a lot of resemblance to the games played during the civil war and now. The fact that the game caught on so well with the soldiers and spread throughout the nation is a testament to the fact that it is our national pastime. The spread of baseball during the civil war was not intentional but I do believe that it is one of the few benefits that did come from the war and the effects are obviously still apparent to this day.

Works Cited

1: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_government_shutdown_of_2013

2: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/178091/americas-pastime.html

3: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_baseball_in_the_United_States#Early_history

4: http://www.pacivilwartrails.com/stories/tales/baseball-and-the-civil-war

5: http://www.mcwm.org/history_baseball.html

6: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Baseball_Hall_of_Fame_and_Museum

7: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubleday_myth

8: http://www.history.com/topics/abner-doubleday

9: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/02/04/civil_war_baseball_a_ball_ used_by_soldiers_before_fighting_at_shiloh.html

10: opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/americas-pastime-behind-bars/?_r=0

The civil war has received a lot of media coverage in the last few weeks. Between the closing of National Monuments to a protester waving the confederate battle flag outside the white house in protest there has been a lot of stuff in the press and on the news. I think that the way that the public reacted to the protester shows that the vast majority of people do find the confederate flag to be disrespectful and a source of racial bitterness. Whites are not proud of the way that some of the people of their culture acted in the past, and blacks are not happy with the way their ancestors were oppressed. I believe that in my opinion, most people are over the whole situation. The civil war is very far in our past and we don’t tend to dwell on it. I do believe that when someone, especially a white person, protests and waves the confederate battle flag around they tend to somewhat reopen wounds. They also reaffirm the fact that the flag is now considered a hate symbol. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be used as such. That being said, there are plenty of non-racist people who view the flag as a symbol of the past of the south, but this view is quickly overshadowed when the flag is used as a symbol of hate. I do believe that this was the message that the protester in front of the White House was trying to convey. He obviously had an issue with the presidency, or he would not have gone in front of the White House. On top of that, if he simply wanted to protest the president and his policy he could have held up a number of items, a banner sign etc. He chose to display the flag, and to bring himself to the center of media attention because of it. Not there is another argument here that the man could just have been seeking media attention, and was just waving the flag around because he knew he would get on TV and be famous for 15 minutes. I personally don’t believe this is true. The man made a deliberate attempt to spread hate a discontent to a protest in front of the white house, and in doing so, reinforced the culture of hate that surrounds the confederate battle flag. 

     

Mystory: Family

Mystory: Family

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The second part of our mystory project focuses on family. Initially I could not think of a way to relate my family with the Civil War. I am a fourth generation Italian immigrant, none of my family fought in the Civil War, as my family didn’t arrive until the 1880’s. So I started to think about my own experiences, those of my family, and how these could possibly relate to the Civil War. I kept thinking of my Grandma, Joanna Michael (neé Marino). This woman has been a source of strength for me in some of my darkest moments, as well as a presence in some of my brightest. She is the strongest female influence I had during the formative years of my childhood, as well as one of the most charitable and selfless women I have ever met. She made many sacrifices for my family, and me, and she will always be one of my greatest sources of joy.

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Joanna Marino was born April 6th, 1932, to an Italian immigrant coal-mining family living in the Oklahoma dustbowl, during the worst years of the great depression. She was the 5th child of 6. When she was nine the defining moment of her generation, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would help change the course of her and her family’s life. She watched her older sisters, Cathy and Trudy, join the Women’s Auxiliary Navy, also known as WAVES, and subsequently go overseas to help do their part in the war effort. Trudy would eventually marry Bill Compton, a Navy Corpsman who served with the Marine Corps on Guadalcanal and Pelelu. Shortly after WWII she watched her brother Clem go off to Korea to fight communism. Clem would receive the Bronze Star with Valor in Korea, although he never spoke of the events that lead to the award. As she saw her siblings return from overseas she herself went off to nursing school. During her time in nursing school she met a young medical student, Harvey Michael. Harvey was himself a veteran of the Army MASH units during the Korean War. They wed and had five children, one of whom I am proud to call my dad, Jeff Michael. Luckily for their family the men were just young enough to be spared from the draft, and avoided the gruesome combat in Vietnam. As she grew older she witnessed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the early 90’s and saw more young men go off to combat. Then on Sept 11th, 2001 she, along with the rest of the world, witnessed the events that would become the defining moment of her children and grandchildren’s generations. A decade later she watched as her grandson went off to Afghanistan to fight for his country in another war. The presence of war has been somewhat constant in Joanna’s life.

 

            War has been raging since the dawn of civilization. (ancienthistory.about .com) It was torn families apart, orphaned children, and widowed wives. There are few things that can truly transcend culture, race or history. War can bind or destroy a nation; it can define a generation; it can end a bloodline. War is often the cause and solution for our problems. The Civil War was the largest loss of American life in any armed conflict it has been involved in. (http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/American_ Civil_War). Since then America has been involved in at least ten armed conflicts that have claimed American lives. (http://americanhistory.about.com) Although there have been major differences in equipment, location, and cause for our involvement; there has been one tie that binds. The family that has been left behind is always impacted. Fear, anxiety and doubt are often emotions that swirl a blue star household. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_flag) The news that a son, daughter, brother or father has been killed is often the worst news that someone will receive in his or her lives. The common experience of the families left behind, some whose family members would never return, is the one of the strongest bonds that our generation has with that of the families of the men who fought in the Civil War. Some families, such as my own, have been blessed not to lose anyone directly to combat. Others are not so lucky.

 

            Sinai Cody (neé McCormick) was born in 1793, in a rural area of the state of Georgia. (solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com) She would have many children and grandchildren, and would lose three of her grandchildren in the Civil War. The first, Barnett Cody, was killed July 23rd, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. (http:// familytreemaker.genealogy.com) Barnett was a Lieutenant at the time of his death, having risen up from the rank of private with a battlefield commission. The second grandson she would lose, Capt. Thomas Reese “Tom” Lightfoot, was killed September 19th, 1864 at the battle of Winchester in Virginia. (http://www. findagrave.com) Capt. Lightfoot was wounded at Gettysburg, the same battle that had taken his cousin Barnett the year prior to Lightfoot’s death. Capt. Lightfoot also rose from the rank of private to earn a battlefield commission to the rank of Captain. Sinai’s final grandson to be killed, William Cody, would fall a month to the day later on October 19th. (solomon.cwld.alexander street.com) So much loss for one woman in such a short span of time. She was able to survive the heartbreak and lived until her death in 1878.

 

            Some of the most calming times when I was in Afghanistan were the moments when I was able to make a phone call home. I would call my parents, a couple close friends and my grandmother. The calls to my grandmother I found to be the most comforting, recalling times from my childhood when my grandma seemed to be the only one there for me. The men in the Civil War did not have this luxury. I did send a few letters during my time overseas, and the ones that I did send took an ungodly 3-4 weeks to arrive at their destination. This is nothing compared to the weeks and sometimes months it would take for letters to arrive home during the Civil War. When someone was hurt or killed overseas all phone and internet activity would be shut down, to prevent the families of those affected to be accidently informed by a member of the Marines unit. This was not an issue during the Civil War, as a death notice would take weeks or months, if one were ever issued. Civil War soldiers had to rely on an unreliable at best postal system to communicate with their families. (http://civilwartalk.com) Despite the difference in methods of communication, the message was not much different during the Civil War compared to today. The fears, insecurities and anguish were relayed in a different vernacular, but with the same emotion during the Civil War as today.

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            Captain Thomas Lightfoot wrote a letter to his grandmother Sinai in January of 1864, mere months before his death. (http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com. proxy.mul.missouri.edu) In the letter he speaks of the consolation and guidance that his grandmother has given him throughout his life and throughout the war: “You have counseled the wayward boy, sympathized with all his wild ambitioning’s and prayed for the youth thrown far from all the influences of home and society, amid the raging, seething torrent of human passions and vice, to suffer hardships and hunger, and to battle for the preservation of you and other dear ones…”. He speaks of the loss of his mother at a young age, which I can relate to. He also speaks of how his comrades are returning home, sick or wounded, and how he will remain in the army until the war’s end. This echoes many of the conversations that my grandmother and I would have when I was deployed. My grandmother was a steadfast rock for me, as it appears was Capt. Lightfoot’s grandmother.

 

            When I began this mystory I didn’t see any connection between my family and the Civil War. As I previously mentioned we were immigrants; and having not fought in the Civil War how could we be connected? As I began to dig and look at things a little bit below the surface I began to realize that my family and I had more connections to this war than I could have imagined. I now feel a personal connection with Captain Thomas Lightfoot and his grandmother Sinai Cody. Although she died nearly a century before I was born I still feel a sting of pity. What a poor woman to not only lose one but three of her grandchildren in the Civil War. I still have the luxury of picking up the phone, calling my grandmother and telling her how much I love her and miss her. I also have been able to spend a lot of time with her after I made it back home from overseas. That is a luxury Sinai Cody and Thomas Lightfoot were never able to receive again in this life, all because of the bloodshed of the Civil War.

 

Works Cited

 1. http://ancienthistory.about.com/b/2003/07/15/the-first-war-ever-recorded.htm

 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War

 3. http://americanhistory.about.com/library/timelines/bltimelineuswars.htm

 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_flag

 5. http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com.proxy.mul.missouri.edu/cgi-bin/asp/philo/cwld/getdoc.pl?S1694-D014

 6. http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/s/i/n/Sally-S-Sinclair/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0384.html

 7. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=91694455

 8. http://civilwartalk.com/threads/postal-service-during-the-civil-war.7390/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO… I fully intended on doing this blog post this weekend but couldn’t figure anything out to write about. I was going back through Confederates in the Attic when I read over something I had missed previously. There is a reenactor who speaks about how it feels good to play the underdog, in this case the Confederacy. He said he could’t play a Union soldier, it reminds him of the Soviets in Afghanistan. I found this to be a very bold and striking comment. For those of you who didn’t know, during the cold war the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, hoping to take the country for its resources and geographical location in the middle east. The Soviets spent about 11 years in Afghanistan, eventually losing their battle and withdrawing. At the time the US sentiment was anti-communist, so inherently anti-Soviet as well as pro-Afghani. This is when the US first funded the Taliban. Fast forward about 20 years. Here I am sitting in the middle of nowhere in southern Afghanistan, when the day comes that the US has spent more time in Afghanistan than the Soviets did. Only this time the mission was completely different, as was public opinion of the United State’s involvement in the region. This is a reflection on the Civil War and the post-war south. In 1870 the focus was rebuilding the south and moving on with the world in general. In the modern setting of CITA the sentiment is the south will rise again and that some believe a second civil war is inevitable. It just goes to show how a little bit of time can completely change the views of a society, sometimes doing a 180 degree turn altogether.

Mystory: Christopher Caleb Michael

civil war 1civil war 2

Part 1: Career

      The year is 1865. To be considered a top-notch surgeon you have to be able to saw a limb off in less than ten minutes (ehistory.osu.edu). The mortality rate of a wound on a lower extremity above the knee was 86%. The closer to the hip you got the worse your chance of survival. After the amputation you had to worry about succumbing to gangrene, tetanus or the worst killer, pyemia. Pyemia was literally pus in the blood system. It was a poisoning of the blood system from inside out. Two-thirds of the deaths on the battlefield in the civil war were due to disease. (civilwar.org)

The year is 2012. War has been raging between the Taliban insurgency and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO for short) Coalition forces, including United States Marines, for over a decade. (Wikipedia.org) A Naval Explosives Ordinance Technician steps on an IED, short for improvised explosive device, a home made bomb typically made out of weaponized fertilizer, an ignition source and a varied assortment of shrapnel from nails to broken glass, that is the weapon of choice for the insurgency. In an instant the Petty Officer loses all four of his limbs. Due to the quick work of his corpsman (the Navy and Marine Corps’ combat medics) the young sailor is able to save his life, but has become the fifth quadruple amputee in the ongoing OIF/OEF campaigns to survive from his battlefield wounds and return stateside. (www.americanhomecomings.com)

I served in the United States Marine Corps on active duty from 18NOV2008 until 17MAY2013. I was combat deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from DEC2010-MAY2011. It was during this time that I decided that I would pursue a career as a Naval Medical Officer. I have always had the dream to go to medical school. Up until a few years ago it was just a dream, a far off goal that I never saw the possibility of achieving. I am the only person in my family to pay for college on my own. I have been independent since I turned 18, and since then the financial burden of college, let alone medical school was out of the question. Eventually I joined the Marines and knew that, however far off it felt, eventually I would be able to use my G.I. Bill to go to school. While on active duty I began to make plans to return to Afghanistan as a private security contractor. Many Marines that I knew got off active duty and returned to Afghanistan as contractors. The starting salary for the first year was about $150,000, of which $93,500 was non-taxable income. I saw this as my step in the door for medical school. My plan was to get out, do a couple pumps to Afghan and use the money to fund my eventual entrance into medical school. Well its funny how life knocks you right on your ass sometimes isn’t it? I never planned on doing more than an enlistment in the military. All I wanted was a chance to serve my country, deploy to a combat theatre, and to earn the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor like so many great men in history had before me. What I didn’t realize was that, after experiencing the brotherhood, fraternity and bond I shared with my brothers-in-arms I would never be able to find anything quite the same as a civilian. That being said, I was about sick of always having to say yes sir, no sir, thank you sir to some young punk fresh out of college who thought that they had a handle on the world. Truth be told I decided that I wanted to be that young punk. Or at least hold that young punk’s rank. So how does this all relate back to medical school, the Civil War and Afghanistan? Well it wasn’t until I deployed to Afghanistan that I realized that I wanted to go into the Naval service as a doctor, or as we call them Medical Officers. The Marine Corps does not have a medical or chaplain corps, if you were wondering. All of our corpsman (aka medics as previously mentioned) and medical personnel come from the Navy. That being said, it was on my deployment to Afghan that I came to meet and befriend a young Naval doctor Lieutenant Albert. It was him who explained to me the benefits of joining the Navy as a medical officer. How that if I gave the Navy four years of my time my medical debt would be wiped free. Leaving me more time in the states with my family and friends and less chance of getting schwacked protecting a foreign dignitary from a country that I hold no loyalty to. So that is where I began to make certain decisions that would lead me in the path that I am currently in.

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During the Civil War the likely hood to survive a battlefield injury was slim to none (find citation). Through the ages the battlefield survival rate has steadily increased. When I was in Afghanistan we only took one KIA. We had over 25 casualties and all but one made it home alive. I realized during this period of my life that I wanted to do as much for the people that I serve with as possible. I want to be on the frontlines with the knowledge of how to save my fellow warriors. I decided that I would leave active duty and use my GI bill to attend Mizzou. It was a very hard decision to leave California and return to Missouri, but ultimately it was the financial aspect that lead me to make my decision. I am currently a Biochemistry major, pursuing the pre-med pathway. I haven’t completely dedicated myself to the course of study, as there are a few majors that have me interested. In the Civil War it wasn’t necessarily what you knew but who you knew that determined if you were going to attend medical school. There were far less regulations and there was no licensure regulations. (ehistory.osu.edu) Nowadays there are many requirements to get into medical school. I’m sure that if I came from and extremely wealthy family or had political connections it would still help, but it seems to me that the playing field is now open to the common man, at least one who can study, get good grades and take standardized tests with some skill. (www.aamc.org).

In conclusion I guess that as one of my careers has begun to come to an end I am hopeful and determined that another is on cusp of the horizon of my life. I’m a little older than my peers and I feel more mature. I am financially independent and have been able to travel parts of the world and I now know myself much better than when I first tried to be a college freshman at the age of 18. I have a determination and drive that was instilled in me by my father and nurtured through fire in the Marine Corps. I will not give up on my dreams and aspirations. I will not quit nor will I lay down in the disgrace of defeat. I know what I want from my life and I have an arsenal of newfound tools that I will use to achieve my goals. Defeat is not an option, just as it was for the men that fought in the Civil War. I am a fighter and will fight for my family, my beliefs, my success and myself till my dying breath, just as 620,000 men did between 1861 and 1865. (www.civilwar.org/education)

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Works Cited

  1. http://ehistory.osu.edu/uscw/features/medicine/cwsurgeon/amputations.cfm
  2. http://www.civilwar.org/education/pdfs/civil-was-curriculum-medicine.pdf
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Enduring_Freedom
  4. http://www.americanhomecomings.com/news/2013/01/29/meet-americas-five-quadruple-amputees-injured-in-iraq-afghanistan/
  5. https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements
  6. http://www.civilwar.org/education/civil-war-casualties.html