Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gettysburg 150th coverage theme song: "I ride at dawn"

Such a major coverage effort for Gettysburg 150th deserves a little fun, a little storytelling, a theme, a vibe. We've christened our workspace "The Redoubt," after a defensive position built by the Iron Brigade on Day 1, according to Marc Charisse.

And I offer this as our theme song, from Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite (lyrics below). It evokes the occasion in words and tone:



Like my father
And his father, and his father before
Watch the soil burn in the fire
War after war
Done things I didn't know I could
For the common good
Tomorrow I ride at dawn

Give a man a hundred years
And he'll want a hundred more
Give him a hundred choices
And he still chooses war
From Salem Poor to Genghis Khan
Tomorrow I ride at dawn

I was born for battle
I was born to bleed
I was born to help those who have dreams of being free
Brother stop your crying, sister dry your eyes
You'll hear my medals ringing from Shreveport to Shabagan
Tomorrow I ride at dawn

At first light, I march to battle
Not my own life, but brothers' I must save
And when you hear those pipes and drummers
You'll know I marched to glory or proudly to my grave
Tell my loved ones they must carry on
For tomorrow I ride at dawn

Tomorrow I ride at dawn
Tomorrow I ride at dawn
Tell my loved ones they must carry on
For tomorrow I ride at dawn

Friday, May 24, 2013

FDR self-edits FTW

Not that this isn't a well-known story, but: I was at the Smithsonian American history museum today and saw FDR's revisions to his Pearl Harbor speech.

I think revisions, generally speaking, are where stories are made. And I love self-edits -- when a writer takes a second (or third, or fourth, or ...) look at what he or she has written, and sees it more clearly or in a different light. That new look often results in revisions that make the story, or, in this case, speech, better. (I'm distinguishing here from writers who pick away at their stories for no reason other than they can't bear to let it go).

In FDR's speech, the original line was, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in world history, the United States of America was simultaneously and deliberately attacked by Naval and air forces of the empire of Japan."

I don't even know what "simultaneously" was ever doing in that sentence. But when FDR changed that to "suddenly" and changed "world history" to "infamy," he gave us the speech's most memorable line.