Meeting October 8, 2019

The Changing Memory of the Civil War

Presented by Robert Girardi

The Civil War was the most important era in United States History. A divided Union fought a fratricidal war that had unending consequences. The human toll exacted left all sides with a quest for meaning and a need to memorialize the huge sacrifice and heroic service. As the nation bound its wounds, reconciliation was facilitated by memorializing leaders of both sides. Over time, the meaning has been lost, as modern thinking refuses to understand the relevance of some monuments, and advocated their removal.

Robert earned his M.A. in Public History at Loyola University of Chicago in 1991. He is a past president of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago and a past vice president and newsletter editor of the Salt Creek Civil War Round Table. He belongs to two other Civil War round tables in the Chicago area. He is a fellow of the Company of Military Historians and is an associate member of the Sons of Union Veterans. He is on the editorial review board of the Journal of Illinois State Historical Society and was the guest editor of the 2011-2014 Civil War Sesquicentennial issues. He was the winner of the 2010 Civil War Round Table’s prestigious Nevins-Freeman Award. In 2012 he was named to the board of directors of the Illinois State Historical Society, and sat on the board of directors of the Camp Douglas Restoration Society 2013-2018. In 2014 he was awarded the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table’s Iron Brigade Association Award for Civil War scholarship. He was an extra in the movie, Andersonville.

Robert created a Civil War exhibit for the Bureau County Historical Society in Princeton, IL and has consulted for the Chicago History Museum (Chicago Historical Society).