American Civil War veterans in 1925 vs. Vietnam war veterans in 2010

What I love about the picture of Civil war veterans is the disturbing feeling of modernity emanating from it. It’s hard to believe these old men in spectacle have fought in a mid-19th century war founded on the question of slavery. The victory of the Union was to engage a whole nation in its slow path towards equal rights and industrialization.

Almost a 100 years later the great-grandsons of those men fought in a far away land for a different ideology, an economic one. And this time the stage was global. However the outcome once again was a victory by the American-led capitalist ideology.

Those two pictures have in common that they show the winners of History, as in the ones writing it. Groups of men who did their part in making History take one course rather than the other.

The hats, you’ll have noticed, have changed dramatically.

1. April 21, 1923 – Conyngham Post, G. A. R., observes its fifty-sixth anniversary; about forty veterans of the Civil War, together with many friends, present.

2. Vietnam veterans at Washburn, North Dakota