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Bill Moyers Essay: Washington Resignations

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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Please see article about my timely new book on Civil War Veteran Volunteers who laid groundwork for Obama's election

Reid Ross tells the story of his family – and, thus, the entire Civil War

Sunday, January 11, 2009 – durangodowntown.com
by Indiana Reed
DURANGO, Colo. – D. Reid Ross has long been known around Durango as the tireless advocate of affordable housing. Now, however, he’s building a national reputation as one of the country’s most knowledgeable Civil War historians – and all because 30 years ago, he decided to research the “interesting characters” in his family tree.
Indeed, by becoming the “accidental genealogist,” Ross stumbled onto a family history rich with passions for country, President Abraham Lincoln and the abolishment of slavery. His investigations have resulted in perhaps the most comprehensive Civil War tome told from the soldiers’ perspective – Ross’ grandfather and three great uncles: Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War: The Hudson Valley’s Ross Brothers and the Union’s Fight for Emancipation.
“You’re talking to a guy who didn’t know he was going to write a book, never intended to write a book… I was just trying to figure out what these guys did,” said Ross, referencing his grandfather and great uncles. “I didn’t know they were Veteran Volunteers. I didn’t know they were so religiously oriented, not just to save the Union, but to wipe out slavery. I had to piece it all together.”
Family history hadn’t been widely discussed during Ross’ youth, though “legend” had it that his grandfather Daniel, while serving in the Union Army, was captured by the Confederates and sent to Andersonville (Georgia), purportedly the worst prison camp ever created in this country. It was a place to start.
“The first thing I had to do was figure out where he was when he got captured, and how come he got captured,” said Ross, who eventually learned Daniel had been on the skirmish line during Sherman’s March to Atlanta. “I didn’t even know the name of his regiment, so it took a long time.”
As it turned out, Ross’ grandfather’s regiment – the 123rd out of New York – was arguably one of the most literate group of men to serve in the Union Army, which enabled Ross to gather the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of the war. Eight of the men kept diaries and more than 30 of them wrote letters – often volumes. Add to that census information, army records, additional letters, news reports, site visits and more, and Ross was able to piece together Daniel Ross’ and his brothers’ (William, Melancton and John) movements as well as thoughts and emotions. He also discovered that the four of them – all in different regiments – had participated in all the major Civil War engagements.
The Ross’ garage is literally lined with boxes of photocopied documents – a veritable treasure of Civil War history. Ross filed the documents by soldier and in the best chronological order possible.
“When you’re doing a PhD dissertation, you’ve got all your research down. Then you know what you’ve got to work with,” said Ross. “That was not the case with this. I would write up as much as I could based on what I had accumulated up to that point, then set it aside for another three months while I’d collect more. So I was constantly interlineating.”
Ross has an undergraduate degree in economics from Washington University in Saint Louis, and a master’s in urban planning from the University of Chicago, but he decided in 1985, when he and wife Sari were living in Madison, Wis., that he would earn a second master’s from the University of Wisconsin - this one in American history, specifically to assist in organization of his family history.
“I didn’t have a thesis for starters. I was just describing as best I could until it finally dawned on me that I did have a thesis,” said Ross, once realizing the powerful influence the church had on the Ross boys. “These guys were as dedicated soldiers as there were in the Union Army and they were representative of the other 136,000 other Veteran Volunteers who had to have that same religious or other motivation to end slavery. They were Lincoln’s emancipators. They really were.”
The “Veteran Volunteers” were those men who enlisted in the Union Army for three years when the war broke out, and then re-enlisted as battle-hardened soldiers – part of Grant’s effort to keep momentum on the side of the Union during the war. Ross’ grandfather Daniel and his brothers William and Melancton were the Veteran Volunteers. Younger brother John had to wait to enlist until he came of age. Melancton ended up blinded, Will killed and John lost his hearing during their service. Enduring five prisons, Daniel, upon release from the Confederate camps, was part of pivotal events, including serving as the guard of Jefferson Davis following his capture.
“I wanted to put a human face on that war. Typical Civil War books are written by people I call ‘bean counters,’” said Ross, describing the less than alluring history book that presents numbers – battles, soldiers, killed, wounded, miles marched, etc. “In the book, I’ve described why a battle was fought, and what was the consequence of victory or defeat, and what it meant in an overall strategy, by describing the actual battle through the eyes of these guys, the eyewitness participants.”
Of the book, former Fort Lewis College President Joel Jones writes, "Ross's extensive and intensive exploration of both primary and secondary sources enabled him to take his family story and transform it into a meaningful statement about both the Civil War and this nation's divided psyche. His willingness to travel thousands of miles in order to access hundreds of primary sources moves this history beyond another run-of-the-mill `I found these letters in the attic' chapter in Civil War history."
With 2009 being the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, Ross has been tapped to participate in numerous celebratory events organized by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Already on his schedule are six Civil War Roundtables in the Washington DC and Boston areas.
Locally Ross will discuss his book, Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War: The Hudson Valley’s Ross Brothers and the Union’s Fight for Emancipation, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Durango Public Library. Published by State University of New York Press, the book is available in Durango at both Maria’s Bookshop and Walden Books.
“I’m a grandson of a Civil War soldier,” said Ross, who will soon turn 87. “There aren’t that many of us left.”
indiana@durangodowntown.com

Bill Moyer's essay on resignations was wonderful and up to his usual standard. I know most of us are tempted to say "'twas ever thus", and that is certainly true;however, I don't think we've witnessed such a feeding at the public trough (like the public bail-out of the mortgage brokers) since the days of Ronald Reagan and the Silverado scandal.We certainly haven't seen such serious threats to the constitution as this administration routinely attemps and gets away with.
Speaking of resignations, Scott McCleland's new book adds more grist to the mill.Of president Bush he said that he (Bush), went terribly off-course and used "propanganda" to push the invasion of Iraq. I was struck by McClelland's use of the word "propaganda", and even reminded of George Orwell's admonitions about cynics and the corruption of language. Is "propaganda", the same as lying? Did LBJ use "propaganda" when he told us about the Tonkin Gulf incident? Was Nixon using "propaganda" when he said he knew nothing of Watergate,or were Reagan/Bush just using "propaganda" when they denied involvement with Iran-contra? Might even Bill Clinton have been using "propaganda" when he denied sex with Monica Lewinsky?
If "propaganda" is supposed to mean zealous "exaggeration", or "embellishment", not lying, as McClelland seems to suggest,then the president didn't lie and
four thousand soldiers and thousands of Iraqi's died for a good cause.I guess some people can ease their consciences about what Bush and his minions really did regarding Iraq, at least according to McClleland.For myself however, it remains what it was and is: a pack of lies perpetrated upon innocent soldiers, Iraqi's, and the American public. The world will pay the price for this "propaganda", and "veering off course", for years to come.

Our government professes belief in freedom, democracy, a responsible and responsive
constituency as well as a government, and I see no evidence of that.
The lack of meaningful participation by the populace shows in the acts of leadership, both
parties, the reactionary behavior by this administration, and the lukewarm non-binding
behavior by the democratically controlled, (ha, ha), congress. We as a people, should
display a society that believes in and promotes fairness and justice in this country as an
example for other governments to emulate. Let us throw the corporate minions out of
THE PEOPLES’ GOVERNMENT, and return POWER to the PEOPLE. After all isn’t
the definition of Democracy a government of, by, and for THE PEOPLE?

I applaud Mr. Moyers essay on Washington Resignations, however the story of how things such as this became the norm, goes all the way back to the very beginnings of our country. None of this is new. The propoganda machine was there at the start along with the corruption and lies that come with it.
As Ben Franklin remarked after the writing of the constitution, "We now have a rebublic, if we can keep it". (Perhaps a paraphrased quote), but one gets the drift.
History is repleat with examples of government saying one thing and doing the opposite.
One only needs to see the drawings of the native peoples here when western europeons arrived, as they were displayed as savages and devils due their skin color by the religions of the day and others. We have forgotten a long time ago that this country was a result of genocide, forced relocation and diseases brought from Europe that allows you and I to live where we do. On land that does not belong to us and never did by any measure of justice one would like to use.
Is it any wonder that, it has always been in the best interest of the powerful to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the public and that this often results in consequences for those that would use and validate force as a means to the end for whatever the rational may be at the time.
From the purchase of LA: land that did not belong to the French to begin with, to Polks' war to aquire a huge chuck of Mexico, to WWI, which was called a bussinessmans war by the general population, to WWII that was largely funded by American bankers in rearming Hitler, to Panama during Bush I, where more civilians were killed than on 9/11, Grenada, where no student was in any danger from anyone and the overthrow of hundreds of elected governments because they would not kneel down before the power elites in Washington and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, we have over 735 military bases outside the U.S. and plenty of private mercernary armies to go along on our dollars and the general public has no idea how far this rabbit hole goes. I call it, Empire in Hiding, as they have done such a fine job of turning a country full of individuals, with their own needs and desires, into a public that is unaware that the party line we are all taught in public school happens to be nothing but lies and half truths.
The people who have resigned in Washington are not endemic to this administration because their morals were at stake. Many have resigned on moral grounds since the formation of the country, as they see when they get there, how the top 1% run everything and after a while, it just disgusts them and they leave.
At some point in time, we are going to have to deal with our sorid history, without leaving out the good parts, which are also many, and make amends and change our ways.
All empires fall. The question today is how far would we like that to be.
No matter what you call it. "Reap what we sow, the law of Karma or whatever. Wrongs have to be righted and justice must prevail, both now and for our past.
This is not a partisan issue, simply a human one.
I wonder if it will ever start?

...And then I awoke to the 'news' of McClelland's book (supposedly a tell-all)...haha...Either the majority of (if you bother to count votes)the American Public is ignorant (that's my bet)...has something to gain financially (which can't be a majority)...or McClelland is lying (book sales may be important), but when I hear the war support (bush's war) was based on propaganda...is that news?...If that is news to you, then you fall into the 1st category...without question, that epitomizes the concept of ignorance...Again, all of this took place in plain view...worse than ignorance, that's stupidity...

It's really too bad (and much too late) that the most important resignations didn't take place...The resignations, if not voluntary;should have been forced through impeachment...I assume the money being made at the expense of the taxpayers has just been too good to turn down...It's just unthinkable to me that those who've take oaths, swearing to act in the well being of this Country are so morally and ethically bankrupt that they would willingly put our citizens in the crosshairs and still be able to live with themselves...I guess after so long of behaving a certain way and never being called on it or rather getting away with it without any consequence, akes it easier. However, there still remains the unspeakable reactions of their actions, as well as 1/3+ higher food and gas prices without any compensation (regardless of anyone's...or any family's situation). The damage that's been done to Our Country, in such short order is unprecedented. I hope the next administration can begin to repair (some of) the damage thats been inflicted, but regrettably there is a great deal of loss that simply cannot be undone. I think its also a serious issue that the majority of the damage inflicted was done openly and without much resistance. I pray some eyes have been opened and some lessons have been learned.

Why hasn't Mr. Bush been impeached?

When the Grinch gets a full bag, little Max has to pull him up the chimney. With a full sleigh he returns to his mountain retreat and announces his resignation. And I don't think Cheney's heart will grow three sizes that day (Jan.20, 2009). It's sickening to admit how many Americans are corporate Grinches. Vote for the Lorax!

I watched your show tonight regarding "Washington Resignations". Once again you've shocked my eyes open beyond my comprehension as to how far and wide corruption has taken hold of our government.

This administration looks at the running of this country as if they are playing a simple game of chess. We, the american people are the playing pieces whose lives get thrown away for the greed of the few in power.

Thank you for your show. It gives me hope that there is a place where the truth can be told. It gives me hope for the future of our country.

Mary
Los Angeles, CA


Thank you, as usual, for your excellent and provocative report.

Is BPA (Biphenol?) listed and clearly marked on products?

References were made to make up products. How does one identify such products?

Should kitchen plastic ware be tossed? They have no labels.
I am interested in knowing more about how to protect our family from this chemical. What about plastic coffeemakers?

Thanks...
Susan Pyburn

Excellent and illuminating work, as usual.

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