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ONE

UNEXPECTED HEROISM

Heroism is indurance for one moment more. - George F. Kennan

While dogs in our modern world fill many roles, a majority are still just pets and therefore  their duties and responsibilities pale in comparison to what was expected by dog owners 170 years ago. In the middle of the nineteenth century, for those living outside cities, canines were indispensable. In reality, the dog was perhaps the most important family tool. It was not as much a pet as it was a sentry, hunter, herder, and defender. During an era when almost every rural family saw a dog as essential, it is interesting that canines served no official purpose in the military. It would take more than seven decades before dog training became a part of the military. Yet that didn’t keep a feisty terrier out of one of the bloodiest battles in the American Civil War or prevent her from being recognized and saluted by the nation’s most revered leader. To fully grasp the unlikely dynamics that brought this story to life, one first has to understand history as it unfolded.

By 1860, in the then not-so-United States, trouble had been brewing for more than a decade. But the event that set the stage for the breaking of a union was the election of Abraham Lincoln as president. In November the tall man from Illinois won the popular and electoral vote over a trio of competitors: John C. Breckinridge, John Bell, and Stephen Douglas. With Lincoln readying to take over the nation’s highest office, those pushing for an end to slavery finally felt as if they had a strong and willing leader in power. Yet it was the fear that Lincoln would act quickly to emancipate the slaves that also created an environment where many in the South vowed to walk away from a nation that refused to recognize individual states’ rights to determine whether one man could legally own another. While the newly elected president pushed for an understanding between the two factions, many in the media and in government deemed the nation already irrevocably broken. So in early 1861, even though few could fathom the deadly consequences that soon would drench American soil in blood, a clock was ticking, driven by moral choices that seemed to be anchored in stone. Soon that clock would hit the zero hour and when it did the country would blow up.

 

 

6/14/2018 7:06:00 PM