Editor's note: Due to an editing error, The Bell Curve failed to appear in Thursday's Daily Pilot. It appears in full below.
Memorial Day — we called it Decoration Day when I was growing up in Indiana — has come and gone, and seemed more full of urgent memories and intensity this year than ever before. Maybe that's because I feel closer to the Civil War as I grow older. There is an increasing awareness as I distance myself from it that I was only two generations away from the violent remnants of slavery in this country, a sobering thought whenever I allow it in.
My grandfather, Robert Patterson, was a colonel in Gen. William Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland. He was wounded in fierce fighting around Murfreesboro, Tenn., and I have a letter he wrote from his hospital bed to the woman back in Decatur, Ind., who became my grandmother. And I never fail to marvel that I shared this Earth for five years with Robert Todd Lincoln, the oldest son of Abraham Lincoln, and the only one to live into maturity.