April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox that ended the US Civil War. It’s a suitable occasion to reflect on the power of forgiveness on history and the poisonous impact of resentment. The fairly rapid reconciliation between North and South made the United States geographically one nation again with a couple of generations. But the bitterness white Southerners directed to their black citizens, including denying them effective citizenship, left the country horribly divided racially into our own day.
The series of 150th anniversaries of key Civil War events has received surprisingly little attention especially, it seems, from the White House, curious given the importance of a black president in ending the long racial nightmare. But it deserves our attention, both for what was achieved through forgiveness after Appomattox and what tragically was not.