The narrative is set in the USA in 2065. It is a momentous time for the American public as it is the bicentenary of the American Civil War. The celebrations have already been the centre of attention for a long while. The celebration is held on the ninth of April, the time when the American Civil War ended. The weather is clear and beautiful. It seems perfectly fit for celebrations in a festive atmosphere. The bicentennial celebration is broadcast by an American TV Channel. The anchorman has an interview with a nationwide known professor, Mr. Brainard on the grandstand. The US government assigns Professor Brainard the task for supervising the plan as he is an expert on the American Civil War. Brainard is aware that one of the disturbing aspects of the Civil War was its cost and inefficiency,which place a heavy burden on the state.
Despite the existing drawbacks , he suggests they still are able to reconstruct a realistic battle by means of modern-day technology. He also explains that the major expenses in any war involve the movement of troops and machinery, medical equipment and personnel and burial expenses. He asserts that it is likely to produce the same impact in a dramatic reconstruction of a battle at a reasonable cost by means of using modern-day technology and cultural development. He thinks out and sketches out an elaborate plan for the celebrations . He says the unique part of the plan is obvious- burying the soldiers right on the battlefield. Therefore, they get rid of a lot of cost and trouble. The battlefield becomes a cemetery! As soon as they agree on the core of the plan, the other details work out pretty well. To implement this plan, they adopt an assembly line procedure, whereby each team is held responsible for a certain part of the plan. First, the computer chooses the soldiers randomly. Next, they hire grave-diggers, masons, gardeners, and florists.
In terms of war machinery the plan needs nothing but a revolver per soldier . Thus, Pro.Brainard believes they save plenty of tax-payers’ money going down the drain! According to this plan, the families of the soldiers know well that this occasion ends up in death, that’s why they arrange their personal affairs beforehand. Apparently, Pro.Brainard meets with some difficulties at first. Some members of Congress argue against the fulfilment of the plan, claiming that it is evidently inhumane. Professor Brainard brings forward such a convincing argument that the members of Congress eventually seem assured that the plan is safer, more efficient, and more humane than the Civil war. While the members of Congress agree with the plan, the Western Union raises a strong objection. They claim that they will lose a considerable amount of money unless people send telegrams to the families of the soldiers.
The US government comes to an agreement with the company allowing them to manufacture small American flags in return for their utmost support. After a rigorous preparation, the plan is underway. On the battlefield that stretches out for miles, the two opposing armies face one another. The soldiers stand to attention in an orderly way. They look like marble statues. On both sides of the battlefield, the task teams wait quietly. The dignitaries are seated in the grandstand to watch the historic moment. The national anthem is sung. Once the President signals, the military band play Taps, which is a musical piece played at dusk and funerals. Along with the last note of the piece, everyone on the grandstand fixes their eyes on the soldiers firmly. With military exactness, each man pulls the trigger of their revolvers . 204,000 men fall down in a perfect harmony as soon as the revolvers go off. A subsequent gloom resulting from the gunsmoke covers the whole battlefield as if a storm has blown over.
The soldiers act their parts, and now it is time for the rest of the team to get on to work. The dignitaries leave their seats for their limos soon after the ceremony is over. The President shakes Pro.Brainard’s hand to show that the plan is a great success. As the last high-ranking officials leave, the excavators move onto the field. They bury each body and level the ground. The stone masons take part in the burial service.They place a stone at each soldier’s grave. Every stone has the soldier’s name, dates of birth and death. Each task team works in an organised fashion. The landscapers follow the masons. They cover the newly- dug graves with sod. Afterwards, the florists put fresh bunch of flowers on each grave. Soon after each team finishes work, the buses for the widows and orphans show up.
They appear at the same time because they are transported by public buses. Accompanied by the attendants dressed in tuxedos and long gowns, they head for the cemetry where their sons are buried with an ID tag and a small American flag. While they lament over their sons, the military band plays “when Johny comes marching home again” in a tuneful way. In the meantime, the onlookers stand to attention as a gentle breeze blows over the battlefield. The ceremony ends as it is planned. An ordinary field changes into a military cemetry where the reconstruction of the battle is performed live.