Written By: Michael McClellan
The American Legion in its preamble to the charter’s constitution states that, “For God and Country we associate ourselves together…”. This sense of unity that all American Legion members engender in their communities is paramount for the success of our country and the continuation of compromise in the face of major conflict. American history is fraught with conflict dating back all the way to its inception with the Articles of Confederation. However, arguably the most contentious time in American history was during the Civil War. The North and South pitted against each other in a fight for the soul of the Union tested not only the people within but the Constitution for which the nation found its bedrock principles. One pivotal battle in this fight for preserving the Union took place in the town, Gettysburg and is one of the town names here at Boys State. The significance this battles carries is rooted not only in its impact on the outcome of the Civil War but the heroes that exemplify what it means to be a townsmen of Gettysburg in Boys State.
As the battle lines were drawn just 30 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania setting up the showdown between General Robert E. Lee from the Confederacy and General George Meade from the Union, the scale of victory was tipping into Confederate hands. Known as the bloodiest conflict of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg saw of 165,000 troops from both armies, a total of 51,000 casualties. The great sacrifice the Union made for their cause of liberating enslaved African Americans and preserving the future success of America in this battle is not only told in the number of soldiers who were injured but the heroes that led the Union army to victory.
One such hero was Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing who repelled the brunt of Pickett’s Charge, the last offensive push by the Confederacy to overrun Union lines. The Confederate army sent 15,000 men right to the center of Union troops along Cemetery Ridge. Lieutenant Cushing was right in the middle of the attack. He took a shell fragment to the shoulder, abdomen, and groin. Even after these injuries he would not abandon his commanding post stating he would, “fight it out, or die in the attempt”. The Union reigned victorious and ended the assault by the South into the North, forcing them on the defensive for the rest of the Civil War. In naming a Boys State town after this significant battle, it is the hope of the American Legion that the young men will learn what it means to fight through weariness or anxiety and embody the leadership of heroes like Union Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing. Ultimately it is our job as members of the Cornhusker Boys State to reaffirm unity in our country and honor the American Legion’s Preamble to its Constitution.
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