Essay on Civil War Funeral Orations

Essay on Civil War Funeral Orations

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Civil War Funeral Orations


Throughout the course of history, there have been many civil wars. In those civil wars, many persons fought and died in battles to defend their beliefs. In the aftermath of a major battle, a people’s morale is as shattered and broken as the bodies of those that were slain. Following the battle, a funeral is conducted in remembrance of the deceased. At these funerals a funeral oration is usually given by a well-known domestic public figure, such as when Abraham Lincoln gave his “Gettysburg Address” in 1863 AD and when Pericles gave his funeral oration to Athens in 431 BC. These speeches were made not only to put to rest the souls of the dead and the grief of those who knew them, but to give those people hope that their friends and loved ones did not die in vain and to remind them why their civil war was being fought.
The Peloponnesian War was fought from 431-409 BC. It was a civil war between the Greek city-states and was lead by Sparta and it’s allies against the dominating Athenian government. The Athenian leader, Pericles, was a learned scholar and an ingenious military general. His speeches were known for their ability to motivate and give courage to a crowd whether it was to his soldiers in the final moments right before a battle or to a gathering in the streets of Athens. After the first few battles of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles was asked to give the funeral oration for those that were slain in defense of Athens. He did not offer his condolences to the families of those that died, but he offered them comfort. He did this because the men that died in those battles did not do so in vain, for dying in defense of one’s city-state had nothing to do with vanity in the eyes of the ...


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...uld not be equaled by the living. He told them that they needed to finish what the soldiers on that battlefield started and doing that was the only way to ensure that their deaths were not in vain. This speech gave the Union a solid reason to finish the war and reunite the United States.
From these speeches we can learn that a civil war demoralizes the population of the country and needlessly kills many people. Civil war inadvertently gives the people of that nation a greater sense of patriotism on both sides of the conflict. Most importantly, civil war shows the population how fragile their government really is.
These speeches were both given to offer hope to populations that were demoralized from the tragedies of civil war and to remind them of the reasons why these sacrifices were being made. Civil war helps show how destructive of a force hatred can be.

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