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[piano playingwhen johnny
comes marching home again]

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"were these things real?

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"did i see those brave
and noble countrymen of mine

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"laid low in death
and weltering in their blood?

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"did i see our country
laid waste and in ruins?

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"did i see
soldiers marching,

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"the earth trembling and jarring
beneath their measured tread?

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"did i see the ruins

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"of smoldering cities
and deserted homes?

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"did i see the flag
of my country,

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"that i had followed
so long,

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furled to be
no more unfurled forever?"

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"surely they are
but the vagaries

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of mine own imagination."

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[cannon fire]

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"but hush! i now hear
the approach of battle.

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"that low, rumbling sound
in the west

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is the roar of cannon
in the distance."

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private sam watkins, company h,
1st tennessee regiment.

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"strange, is it not,

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"that battles, martyrs, blood,
even assassination

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should so condense
a nationality?"

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walt whitman.

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it istheevent
in american history

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in that
it is the moment

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that made the united states
as a nation,

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and i mean that
in different ways.

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the united states
was obviously a nation

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when it adopted
a constitution,

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but it adopted
a constitution

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that required a war
to be sorted out

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and therefore required a war
to make a real nation

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out of what was
a theoretical nation

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as it was designed at
the constitutional convention.

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before the war, it was said,
"the united states are."

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grammatically,
it was spoken that way

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and thought of as a collection
of independent states.

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after the war, it was always
"the united states is,"

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as we say today
without being self-conscious.

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that sums up
what the war accomplished.

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it made us an "is."

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the confederate states
of america had once stretched

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from the rappahannock
to the rio grande.

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its leaders had once dreamed
of a tropical empire

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