Essay: Forgiveness to the Injured Doth Belong

The American trajectory generally arcs into the future, not the past. The nation's promise tends to override its memories. The best life lies ahead, like a highway heading west. There are American ghosts, of course, haunted rooms, secrets in the attic. But the virtue of the New World has always been its newness. "Why drag about this monstrous corpse of your memory?" Ralph Waldo Emerson asked. Henry Ford never looked back. "History," he said, "is more or less bunk."

This spring has been the season of the past, however. It is the anniversary of almost everything. Americans have been pitched back...

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