Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.



Today is the 150th anniversary of the third and last day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War and the long-sought victory that drew Abraham Lincoln back to the battlefield in November to give the best (and the shortest) speech in American history. The battle provided instances of extraordinary valor, notably the defense of Little Round Top by the 20th Maine Voluntary Infantry Regiment. Out of ammunition, they fixed bayonets, charged the regrouping Confederates and saved their comrades from being overrun. Overall, however, it was three days of horrendous carnage and the bloodiest fighting of the war – 8,000 dead, 27,000 wounded, 11,000 missing or captured – symbolized by Pickett’s charge, one of the most senseless wastes of human life in the history of warfare. As Southern infantrymen walked in lines across three-quarters of a mile of open field, Union guns on Cemetery Ridge annihilated them; almost half never came back. Yet even those figures pale next to the magnitude of loss suffered by the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 19 of whose 20 members were burned to death last Sunday as they fought a huge fire outside Yarnell, Arizona. Young men in the prime of their lives, with young wives and children, girlfriends and parents and extended families, gone in an agonizing moment, while the 20th, the survivor, will be forever changed. Despite all the current cynicism about human selfishness, we still depend on those who act bravely on our behalf. All deaths are sad, but some just break your heart.

They the People