I know there has been a lot of discussion on this blog and others this week on the re-release of Ken Burns’ The Civil War. I know that the documentary means a lot of things to a lot of people, but I would like to take just a moment and share my thoughts on a more personal level.
I was in the second grade with the series was released and had already exhibited a interest in the Civil War following a family trip to Gettysburg the previous summer. That year in school, my teacher was Mrs. Kolakowski. Her son Chris was kind enough to loan his VHS tapes of the series to me and allow me to take them home to watch on the weekends. Next to the old Classic Images Productions set of documentaries that were shot at the 125th Anniversary re-enactments, it was my introduction to the Civil War through major media.
The Christmas that my parents gave me a DVD player it came accompanied with The Civil War. Needless to say, I had watched all of the episodes by New Year’s Eve.
The Civil War still resonates with me. When I write or conduct research, I always have some type of background noise on. Usually I’ll put on one of my favorite tv shows. Fortunately, I can stream it on Netflix and often pull up an episode and have it playing in the living room while I’m at work. While I obviously have my own critiques of it, I still find the documentary to be incredibly entertaining. But most importantly, it is still one of may vehicles for the general public that makes the conflict interesting and accessible.