GEN. ROBERT E. LEE: January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870
Originally published January 19, 2015.
Marc Maron was one of my favorite comedians since the late ‘80s, but huge success had – for a long time – eluded him. Maron spent years moving around the comedy and media landscape, always brilliant but remaining around the margins of celebrity. It was only after Maron launched the popular WTF podcast that he found real fame. The podcast led to an eponymously-titled sitcom, television and movie roles, extended stand-up specials, and a tidal wave of media interest. Maron summed up the situation with a typically mordant observation: “It takes ten years of hard work to create an overnight success. Unfortunately, that’s the exact same amount of time it takes to create a bitter, broken failure.” Maron is smart enough to recognize that his efforts have paid off, but that there are thousands of people plugging away at a dream who never achieve it. It’s the paradox of anyone chasing a dream – failure is only defined once we have quit. Prior to that, we're still chasing the dream. To Maron’s point, there are people who will chase the dream for years and years before they finally give up, bitter and broken. Because talent isn’t a guarantee. Neither is genius. Sometimes, even success isn’t a guarantee; many people have pushed for a dream only to realize that it was the wrong dream. We go to the wrong school, we pick the wrong career, we love the wrong person… and we only know how wrong it was after we’ve met the goals we set for ourselves but happiness or satisfaction has eluded us. It’s the nightmare of dreamers, and if one person lived that nightmare, in my opinion, it was Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Robert E. Lee is a difficult man to defend, and even more difficult to hold up as an object deserving gratitude. But the one element of Lee worth noting is the same element that makes my gratitude irrelevant. Lee achieved his greatest dream; anything outside of that is secondary.
- Robert E. Lee profile at The Civil War Trust
- Looking at the Battle of Gettysburg Through Robert E. Lee’s Eyes