The Civil War is the most written about, read about, and debated event in the history of the United States. Although we stand more than a century away from its turmoils and urgencies, many Americans continue to be fascinated and haunted by this period of our past.

Glory is one of the more serious endeavors of 1989. Written by Kevin Jarre and directed by Edward Zwick, it recounts the formation, training, diffculties, and combat of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, the first black regiment to fight in the Civil War. Although Matthew Broderick is just fine as the conscientious young commander of the unit, the stirring performances are given by Denzel Washington as a defiant volunteeer, Morgan Freeman as a leader-in-the-making, Andre Braugher as a scholar turned soldier, and Jihmy Kennedy as a stuttering sharpshooter.

This well-researched and dramatically structured film about a little known aspect of the Civil War will appeal to moviegoers because of its accent on courage, freedom, and the necessity of standing up against racism in all its invidious forms. Religious folk especially will be moved by the meeting in camp the night before the regiment is to lead a suicidal assault on Fort Wagner. One by one the men rise to express their prayers, their hopes, and their love for what to some of them is the only family they have ever known. This scene makes the battle to come all the more poignant.