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Visitor's Center, Antietam National Battlefield Park, Sharpsburg

Visitor’s Center, Antietam National Battlefield Park, Sharpsburg, Maryland, June 1, 2017.

For visitors from other lands, the small patch of Maryland countryside on which the center has been planted represents the beginning of the end of slavery as an institution in the United States of America. In one horrific days of battle, General McClennan’s forces pushed General Lee’s Confederate army from the field but left it also to retreat west across the Potomac River and thence to fight a long war that would end about where it began but with the moral vision and structure of the country forever changed in favor of equality under the law and “liberty and justice for all”.

It takes a long time to change men — and to change their attitudes and beliefs about money and about one another. My America remains a work in progress, but as long as the work hews to the liberal view of man and the earnest distribution of political power through democracy accompanied by integrity, I think we Americans — and everyone else — will continue getting better in the building or forming of greater societies.

Where we have let people down, I’m sure we are going to be made to remember it. Where we have helped people up, one may hope we’ll be remembered for that too.