Today at the end of class Dr. Birzer took us out to the Civil War memorial in between Lane and Kendall. Despite the sunshine, it seemed very solemn; Dr. Birzer's voice reverberated between the two buildings. He told us about the volunteers on both sides, that they made up the majorities of both the armies. And then he told us about Hillsdale's role in the war. We'd already heard about the faculty and administration of Hillsdale storming up to Jackson in 1854 and effectively forming the Republican Party. But I hadn't heard what happened here, on this very campus in April of 1861. The college wasn't much smaller back then, with a student body of about 1000. When Lincoln issued the call for troops in mid April, Hillsdale responded like no other college in the country. 500 of her boys signed up then and there. Half the student body, nearly every male student on campus, was gone within days. Not even West Point had a comparable percentage of volunteers. Those Hillsdale Students made their impact. At the battle of Gettysburg our regiment, the 24th Michigan, deliberately put themselves in harm's way at the low ground, braving the lines of Confederate soldiers to give the Union army time to take the high ground. In the first twenty minutes of that famed battle, that regiment had suffered over 80% casualties, and 400 Hillsdale men were dead. They had secured the high ground. Dr Birzer told us that no matter how long he taught at Hillsdale, he would never have the connection to those dead men that we did. We, as students at this institution, share an unbreakable bond with them. "That's your tradition. That's your legacy. Think about that when you decide what you're going to major in or what career you'll pursue. Ask yourself why they volunteered and what they sacrificed themselves for. And then ask yourself what you're living for." After ten days of spring break, I can't imagine a more intense "welcome back to Hillsdale".
From Catherine_Creagan - 23.3.09