Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Palm Sunday and Easter

Christianity played a tremendous role in soldiers' lives during the Civil War. Although men of other faiths were represented, Christians were by far the majority. Revivals were frequently held until the burden of war weighed so heavily on the soldiers that, by 1863, religious services were generally pushed by the wayside. Still, men carried Testaments, and prayed fervently before battle. Even the Confederate battle cross is representative of St. Andrew, who was Jesus' disciple, and the patron saint of Scotland; the red on the Southern Cross representing Jesus' blood, and the white border representing God's protection.

General Robert E. Lee was arguably the most passionate about his religious convictions, believing that God's divine will would determine the outcome of the war. He prayed regularly, and must have continuously fought his inner demons to justify all the pain and suffering the Confederate army inflicted under his command. What is most profound, though, is that he surrendered his army to General Grant on Palm Sunday. I wonder what must have been going through his mind at that time.

Easter to Christians represents rebirth, rejuvenation, and, of course, the resurrection. In a way, it is ironic that, in 1865, the country started out anew right around Easter, becoming "The United States of America" instead of individual states. Sadly, President Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, expiring the next morning. Although Easter should be a day of celebration for all Christians, in 1865, it was a day of mourning for both the North and the South, and a premonition of the heartache that was yet to come.

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