On this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered 27,800 Confederate troops to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, ending the four-year war between the States, a war that highlighted the Confederate courage and the final triumph of the Union cause.
"The wisest person is not the one who has the fewest failures but the one who turns failures to best account," Grant once said.
As with all wars, this was a costly one. According to a 1863 Congressional report, it cost $2.5 million a day to fight the Civil War, that ended with over 620,000 casualties.
"It is well that war is so terrible. We would grow too fond of it," observed Lee, a great leader who urged Southerners to accept defeat with dignity and work to restore the country's unity.
About war, the ancient Greek statesman Pericles said, "Trees, though they are cut and lopped, grow up again quickly, but if men are destroyed, it is not easy to get them again."
But history has shown how the pain of the war gave birth to an exciting new era, with a nation "indivisible." Twenty years after the war, General Gates observed that America celebrated "freedom and justice for all... with a people reunited and animated by that indomitable spirit."
Within each of us is an indomitable spirit that rises.