Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain On Race And Equality

Earlier today I noticed one of my favorite people on twitter (@_Holly_Renee) send out a great tweet about equality. To which someone replied “there’s no such thing as equality”. That in turn reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from a great movie.

And here it is..

From The Film Gettysburg (1993):

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: Tell me something, Buster… What do you think of Negroes?

Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain: Well, if you mean the race, I don’t really know. This is not a thing to be ashamed of. The thing is, you cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men one at a time.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: You see to me there was never any difference.

Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain: None at all?

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: None at all. Of course, I haven’t known that many freed men… But those I knew in Bangor, Portland… You look in the eye, there was a man. There was a “divine spark,” as my mother used to call it. That is all there is to it. Races are men. “What a piece of work is man. How infinite in faculties and form, and movement… How express and admirable. In action how like an angel.

Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain: Well, if he’s an angel, all right then… But he damn well must be a killer angel. Colonel, darling, you’re a lovely man. I see a vast great difference between us, yet I admire you, lad. You’re an idealist, praise be. The truth is, Colonel… There is no “divine spark”. There’s many a man alive no more of value than a dead dog. Believe me. When you’ve seen them hang each other the way I have back in the Old Country. Equality? What I’m fighting for is to prove I’m a better man than many of them. Where have you seen this “divine spark” in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? No two things on Earth are equal or have an equal chance. Not a leaf, not a tree. There’s many a man worse than me, and some better… But I don’t think race or country matters a damn. What matters, Colonel… Is justice. Which is why I’m here. I’ll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I’m Kilrain… And I damn all gentlemen. There is only one aristocracy… And that is right here. [points to his head]

Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain: And that’s why we’ve got to win this war.



Abraham Lincoln on Gettysburg

One hundred and forty five years ago today, one of the most hated presidents in the history of these United States gave a brief speech at a cemetery in Pennsylvania. His two minutes in front of an estimated crowd of 15,000 paled in comparison to the lengthy two hour oration given by the speaker that preceded him.

From all accounts the crowd that day was un-moved by the presidents words that we have come to know as the Gettysburg Address:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. ” – Abraham Lincoln