Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blue and red
My new National Geographic arrived yesterday. I was excited to see that it had a map. I have most of the maps going back to the mid-forties. Though I don't think they're quite as good as the used to be, I'm still excited to get a new one. This month is a map of the Civil War campaigns. I believe the last time they printed this map was in the early sixties on the occasion of the centennial of the war; it was included as part of the do-it-yourself atlas they put out in those days.

I was a bit taken aback when I noticed that the Union armies were represented by blue arrows and the Confederacy by red ones. With the way "blue state" and "red state" has forced its way into our vocabulary over the last four years, I had an image of the Volvo riding forces rolling back the pick-ups and marching on to Richmond, with only a brief stop to warm croissants over the glowing embers of Atlanta. I pictured Lincoln and his generals, decaf, sugarless mochas in hand, as they debated strategy long into the night. I visualized the last ragged defenders of the lost cause making a final stand outside the No Spin Zone.

Then I remembered that red and blue arrows have been used to represent opposing armies on campaign maps as long as there has been four-color printing, perhaps longer. But even this morning, I'm still a little tickled to think that they chose red to represent the armies of treason and rebellion in their doomed attempt to demolish the United States, and blue as the color of the saviors of the republic. I'll take my inspiration anywhere I can get it.

No comments: