I don't cry.

It just doesn't happen.

I get angry, irked and irritated. Those have always been my most powerful expressions of emotion.

But for someone who doesn't cry, I've sure done my share of fighting back involuntary saline leakage in recent weeks. There seems to be a common thread of reflective jubilation, not sorrow, for nearly crying out loud.

On this Sunday, I share one near-tearful tale hoping it helps you realize there are plenty of things in life worth crying about.

Two weeks ago I stood on an Appomattox, Va., "battlefield" upon which re-enactors played out the events of one of the Civil War's final battles.

I was there covering the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Appomattox Court House. The real battle ushered in the Confederate surrender and essential end to America's bloodiest war.

My family traveled with me to Appomattox to experience the historical re-enactment. Many of you saw our coverage in The Times and at nwi.com/civilwar.

At the re-enactment, rifles crackled and cannons boomed as Union Army musicians played "Battle Cry of Freedom" on their fifes and drums.

As I gazed up a rolling hill, a good 200 yards from the close vantage point from which I was photographing the "battle," I spotted my wife and four children.

In time with the sounds of battle, my mind replayed the images of my then 8-year-old twin sons as they helped me comb region graveyards four years ago, seeking out the worn, broken or missing headstones of Northwest Indiana Civil War veterans.

It was all part of a project I led to replace the damaged or missing headstones of region Civil War soldier graves with new government-issued markers. My sons were a big part of this project in its early stages, before they morphed into preoccupied pre-teens with their own agendas.

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Now here they were for the 150th anniversary of the war's effective end, experiencing it with me, albeit from a greater distance.

And there was my wife atop the hill, having pushed a two-seat stroller bearing the two youngest Chase kids through viscous, red Virginia clay, rain-soaked from the prior evening.

My wife would rather be doing a thousand other things than soaking in history the way I like to absorb it. But there she was.

And then my eyes fell to the face of my 2-1/2-year-old daughter and the baby carrier containing my 2-month-old son.

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Here's where moisture really entered the field of vision.

Many of you know my daughter and youngest son — both biological siblings — came to my family through adoption and are black.

Ending the enslavement of black Americans was a central pillar of the Union's Civil War efforts a century and a half ago.

So as the smoke rose from the Appomattox battlefield, framing my family in the distance, powerful emotions surfaced. How different this real-time family portrait could have looked had the Civil War not been fought — or had the Union not won the war.

Some estimates show as many as 700,000 Americans died in the 1861-65 fight that ended slavery and paved the road for black citizenship and voting.

It was in this setting — with these emotions — that I fought back tears.

No, let's be honest. I cried.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.



Marc Chase is a veteran investigative reporter, columnist and editor of more than two decades. He currently leads The Times news staff as local news editor. He can be reached at 219-933-3327.