The Dots and Dashes that Changed the World

Gel Pen on Watercolor Paper – Morse Code Alphabet

Our prompt for this week was to create a whimsical alphabet and write two words with our alphabet. I did not want to repeat what I had done before, so I took inspiration from a book. I am reading Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. He was the first President to communicate from the White House to his Generals on the battlefield. He did this using Morse code, which for the 1800s was both practical and magical. Morse code may not seems like a whimsical way to communicate, yet for the 1800s it was! I drew the letters and included in each the dots & dashes that comprise their Morse code. I then added water to smear the ink and used that to fill in the words.

As I wrote out these letters I was awestruck thinking about the people who used this code to communicate across the globe. Being proficient or bilingual so to say and have this be your second ‘language’? That’s incredible! This collection of dots and dashes literally changed the world. It changed who could communicate, how quickly the messages were received, and it gave both parties the ability to have a conversation across great distances. Morse code was a precursor for our modern day internet.

My father-in-law was a communication specialist in the Army, and we have the tool he used to send Morse code hanging up on a wall. I thought about him a great deal during this activity and once again was impressed with how diligent and dedicated people from the past built a foundation for generations to communicate in the future. Can you imagine what Abraham Lincoln would have been able to communicate if he had a blog? Or the internet at his disposal? Or would his words and his character get lost in all the other junk that is out there? We will never know.

As you text or email or FaceTime or post today, say a quiet prayer of thanks to those who mastered dots and dashes so we could freely communicate around the globe. Someone has to go first, fight the battle, perfect the idea then send it out to let it impact the globe. Who knew that dots and dashes could do all that?

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