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In the present, voices from the past

POSTED: March 16, 2011 4:00 a.m.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of America’s Civil War.


Although Southerners admit that the Confederacy had to lose that war in order to maintain our nation as the United States, they also point with some pride at the courage displayed by the men and women involved.


At 2 p.m. March 26 at the Dawson County Library, Civil War historian John D. Fowler will present a lecture on the Civil War in North Georgia.


Fowler is the director of the Bandy Heritage Center and is on the staff of Dalton State College.  He has authored two books dealing with the Confederacy and the Civil War and has three others forthcoming.


The library’s information specialist, Erica Rohlfs, says that although the program is essentially a historical presentation, Fowler is known for his sense of humor, so she expects his lecture to be entertaining as well as enlightening.


The public is invited.


Civil War buffs can actually be engrossed in that history because Georgia Public Television is rebroadcasting Ken Burns’ widely acclaimed series, “The Civil War.”  Although dates and times of those broadcasts have not been announced, television viewers will remember the series as one of the highest rated and most celebrated in public television’s history. It is shown through letters, diaries and photographs, combined with historian interviews and exquisite music.


I am definitely not among those who are vehemently pushing for more “states rights” today or entertaining thoughts of secession.  We know what that led to. 


But I hope to hear Fowler’s presentation on March 26 and to watch Ken Burns’ unforgettable documentary.


The terrible disasters in Japan, which overshadow our thoughts as I write this, include dangers from that nation’s nuclear power plants and remind me of my resistance to our adopting that form of energy production.


During the 1970’s I spent three years teaching with Atlanta Public Schools’ environmental education project. Although an English/Language Arts major, I was invited to join that group to work with individual student projects, teacher training and curriculum development.  You can imagine how I had to expand my limited science knowledge. I have forgotten most of the facts and figures I learned then, but I retain my attitudes and interest in protecting the environment.


One of the basic premises I learned is that there is no truly failsafe way to avoid the hazards of creating nuclear energy. Of course, there have been some new methods invented, and I know that there is no failsafe way to avoid many natural disasters either. But I would rather we not invite more man-made ones.


Some of the slogans we propagated in those days are resurfacing and hold some truths today:  “Less is more;” “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”


And one I would add:  If we dig deeply enough into many of our economic (and environmental) problems, we will usually discover greed.


Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.


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