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Shelly's Book Journal

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The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
Shelby Foote
Progress: 380/976 pages

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home - Rhoda Janzen This is the story of Arlington - once a plantation belonging to Robert E. Lee and his wife (the great granddaughter of Martha Washington) and literally stolen by the US government at the onset of the Civil War. As the country struggled with the war dead, one man had a vision to plan a cemetery for the Lee property, and by wars end, the Lees had (illegally) lost claim to it. This book talks about the struggles of burying the war dead post Civil War, the vision to turn Arlington into a memorial, and the justice received by the Lee family. It chronicles the pageantry of Military burials, the reverence of the ground, and the evolution of the cemetery into a National Memorial in the minds and hearts of Americans. Also covered is the history of the Tomb of the Unknowns and the process of selection and the funeral plans and burial of President Kennedy - the event that put Arlington "on the map."The first part of this book was very engaging as the details surrounding the acquisition and establishment of the cemetery unfolded. As the story got into the 20th century, it began to lose a little steam - chronicling some historical events with a depth that I felt was unnecessary for this type of book. The information on the Kennedy funeral was compelling - did it actually make him even more of a hero? But there is no doubt that what is done at Arlington is one of the last vestiges of honor left in this country and this book would be of interest to anyone who loves the history of our country and the great men who led us to today.