It was glorious glad marching

It was glorious glad marching February 8, 2020

Here is your open thread for February 8, 2020.

Today is the birthday of John Williams:

On February 8, 1865, the state of Delaware refused to ratify the 13th Amendment — the part of the Constitution that outlaws slavery. Delaware didn’t get around to ratifying the 13th Amendment until 1901.

The Dawes Act was passed on this date in 1887, allowing the federal government to divvy up Native American tribal lands into private property that could later be sold to or stolen by white people. It’s a stolen land, and we’re not through yet.

The Orangeburg Massacre was carried out 52 years ago on February 8 when South Carolina State Troopers opened fire on a crowd of unarmed South Carolina State University students who had just come from a protest against segregation at an Orangeburg bowling alley. Unarmed students Samuel Hammond Jr., Delano Middleton, Henry Smith were fatally shot by gun-wielding thugs who also carried badges. The governor blamed the shootings on “outside agitators” and none of the troopers was found guilty of any crime.

February 8 is the birthday of Lana Turner, Jack Lemmon, James Dean, Nick Nolte, and Mary Steenburgen. Two of them won Oscars.

Very funny people Cecily Strong, Seth Green, and Robert Klein turn 36, 46, and 78 today. It’s also the birthday of Jules Verne, Kate Chopin, and Martin Buber.

February 8 is the feast day of St. Meingold of Huy who may or may not have been the count of Huy. One of them got killed. Or both. We know this happened in 892 but it’s not entirely clear if this was the political assassination of a count or the martyrdom of a saint. Or both. Or neither. In any case, let’s all take a moment on this holy day to reflect on the pious example of whichever Meingolds did or did not exist and rededicating ourselves to not assassinating the nobles of Wallonia.

Finally, today is the birthday of William Tecumseh Sherman. Here is a poem in his honor written by Herman Melville in 1864:

Not Kenesaw high-arching,
Nor Allatoona’s glen —
Though there the graves lie parching —
Stayed Sherman’s miles of men;
From charred Atlanta marching
They launched the sword again.
The columns streamed like rivers
Which in their course agree,
And they streamed until their flashing
Met the flashing of the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
That marching to the sea.

The brushed the foe before them
(Shall gnats impede the bull?);
Their own good bridges bore them
Over swamps or torrents full,
And the grand pines waving o’er them
Bowed to axes keen and cool.
The columns grooved their channels.
Enforced their own decree,
And their power met nothing larger
Until it met the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
A marching glad and free.

Kilpatrick’s snare of riders
In zigzags mazed the land,
Perplexed the pale Southsiders
With feints on every hand;
Vague menace awed the hiders
In forts beyond command.
To Sherman’s shifting problem
No foeman knew the key;
But onward went the marching
Unpausing to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
The swinging step was free.

The flankers ranged like pigeons
In clouds through field or wood;
The flocks of all those regions,
The herds and horses good,
Poured in and swelled the legions,
For they caught the marching mood.
A volley ahead! They hear it;
And they hear the repartee:
Fighting was but frolic
In that marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
A marching bold and free.

All nature felt their coming,
The birds like couriers flew,
And the banners brightly blooming
The slaves by thousands drew,
And they marched beside the drumming,
And they joined the armies blue.
The cocks crowed from the cannon
(Pets named from Grant and Lee),
Plumed fighters and campaigners
In the marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
For every man was free.

The foragers through calm lands
Swept in tempest gay,
And they breathed the air of balm-lands
Where rolled savannas lay,
And they helped themselves from farm-lands —
As who should say them nay?
The regiments uproarious
Laughed in Plenty’s glee;
And they marched till their broad laughter
Met the laughter of the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
That marching to the sea.

The grain of endless acres
Was threshed (as in the East)
By the trampling of the Takers,
Strong march of man and beast;
The flails of those earth-shakers
Left a famine where they ceased.
The arsenals were yielded;
The sword (that was to be),
Arrested in the forging,
Rued that marching to the sea:
It was glorious glad marching,
But ah, the stern decree!

For behind they left a wailing,
A terror and a ban,
And blazing cinders sailing,
And houseless households wan,
Wide zones of counties paling,
And towns where maniacs ran.
Was it Treason’s retribution —
Necessity the plea?
They will long remember Sherman
And his streaming columns free —
They will long remember Sherman
Marching to the sea.

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