Should Joe Biden prevail as the next president of the United States, we should all remember the lesson of courtesy extended by Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee and Lee’s army of Northern Virginia.
In his book “April 1865: The Month that Saved America,” Jay Winik recounts how, after signing the surrender of the Southern Army, when leaving the courthouse, Lee and his disconsolate followers found Grant’s troops waiting solemnly outside, not to gloat but to present arms. An overt act of respect to those who were, once again, just fellow Americans, returning to their homes to rebuild their lives.
While some resentments yet linger to this day, it is thought that this simple civility helped avoid an extended guerrilla war at which the wilderness-wise Southerners of the day excelled. Irrespective of this election’s outcome, may we learn from Grant’s gesture at Appomattox, and, move forward, as one. Not to just restore the past, but to finally realize the incredible hybrid vigor of our multicultural, multiracial heritage and build a new America that shows the world how it’s done.
We can do this.
Paul Suzman, Seattle