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.



Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on the great reward of service

One hundred and forty seven years ago today in a small town in Pennsylvania two great armies parted after three of the bloodiest days this nation has ever known. The two armies were the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The battle was of course Gettysburg. With casualties between 46,000 and 51,000 there is no doubt that each side had given their “last full measure” for their belief in freedom.

That so many Americans, past and present, have been willing to make such sacrifice should never be forgotten. Nor should these words of freedom:

“In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger. .. This is the great reward of service, to give life’s best for such high stakes that it shall be found again unto life eternal.” ~ Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain