The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 3, 2013

Geoff Caldwell, guest columnist: Remember how we got here, whatever your plans

JOPLIN, Mo. — It was 150 years ago today, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on a blistering July afternoon, that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee watched as 12,000 men under the command of Gen. George Pickett charged the center of the Union line at Cemetery Ridge near Gettysburg, Pa. 

In less than two hours, over half of the men that made up Pickett’s Charge lay dead or wounded and the Union that President Abraham Lincoln would so humbly speak of four months later was secured.

It was 237 years ago Thursday that 56 men in Philadelphia declared that “the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States … with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Both were epic struggles, one forming the union, the other preserving it, both deserving of their hallowed place along the American timeline.

Review the political commentaries of today and you will find no shortage of columns linking the political discourse of today to the divides of the Civil War and the tyranny of the Revolution. And indeed much similarity can be found in the political grievances of today and those redressed in our past.

Yet what they all miss is that America has always had political polarization and deep, profound ideological divides. 

Most Americans today do not even realize that the disgraceful treatment of our soldiers at Valley Forge was inflicted upon them not by the British Empire but rather a polarized and dysfunctional Continental Congress. If not for George Washington’s leadership then, there would never have been a battle of Yorktown four years later.

And while those same Americans know the Civil War was fought over slavery and states’ rights, how many know that for two long years, until Gettysburg, the North had lost every major engagement with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia? It was the leadership of Lincoln that rallied the North to preserve the union, free of slavery.

Lee had no more reason to believe he would be soundly defeated than the signers of the Declaration of Independence had to believe that they would prevail over the greatest military power of their time. They made their decisions, and because of those decisions, America today has advanced beyond the wildest dreams of Americans in 1776 and 1863. 

Yet for all our technological advancements, our progress on civil rights, our unparalleled economic and military power, we find ourselves lacking the leadership that got us here.

For unlike our leaders of yesterday, our professional political class of today prefers a path pocked with envy, jealousy, depravity and division. They care not about the havoc they create.

Today and tomorrow mark two of the most defining moments of our history. Without those two moments, we — you, me, all of us that make this America — would not be here. 

Without the humble and principled leadership of a few reluctant patriots at the most critical of times, we would not be here. 

And if we continue on this course, with a populace uneducated in that history and unwilling to learn from it, we will most certainly be no more.

So whatever your plans, wherever you find yourself this week, remember we all got here via Philadelphia and Gettysburg.

Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin.

Text Only
  • Other Views Other Views: Eroding court’s authority

    While Kansans were focused on the twists and turns of school finance this past week, lawmakers made an unnecessary and historic change in how the state’s district courts operate, coercively tying the reforms to badly needed funding.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Travesty

    What a travesty that a terrific young man from Spain is on the verge of deportation even though he has proven his worth in America (Globe, April 13).

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: Astonishing transformation

    The transformation of the Republican Party in the last decade is astonishing.

    April 18, 2014

  • Your View: The changing view

    It is heartbreaking to hear the decades old trees (which border on South Pennsylvania in Webb City) cracking and being bulldozed down.

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Safe and sound

    Of the 7,500 Joplin and Duenweg homes hit by the 2011 EF-5 tornado, fewer than 20 percent of them had basements.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: Funding for state’s roads

    Missouri is finding there is no good alternative to growing the economy, adding new well-paying jobs and expanding the tax base.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Government without apology or explanation

    Americans feel closest to their Uncle Sam at this time of year as he extends his hand for his “fair share” to fund his numerous endeavors.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Step aside

    The people of Joplin made it clear they wanted change at City Hall with their decisive votes to replace two council members.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Serious drawbacks

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) lays out clearly and persuasively the serious drawbacks with so-called right-to-work legislation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Free choice

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) regarding right-to-work seems to assume that if workers are given the choice of joining a union, they won’t join.

    April 16, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

     View Results
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case