Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taking on the Confederates

If asked to rate places I'd like to visit, battlefields would be right there at the bottom of the heap. Civil War battlefields, at the bottom of that list. I'm very anti-war. Not that I don't think there are times to stand up for ones rights, but it seems to me that there HAS to be another way to solve problems that don't involve killing each other.

But, our route took us through a little spot on the road where a quaint town opened onto beautiful rolling hillsides. Gettysburg. It stands on its own, as though it needn't be attached to a state - although, it resides in Pennsylvania, in case, like me, you would need to look it up.

"Oh, why not," I said to Arayo. "The least we can do is take a photo of you here with a cannon or something." (And, if she wanted to help water a monument to a dead confederate, then I wasn't going to argue with her.)

Gettysburg - where over 165,000 Americans duked it out, killing 8,000 and injuring 27,000 more. We should be so proud. I know this is part of our history, but pride in all this is just not something I can grasp.

As we make our way further south, the war keeps resurfacing. It is more important here, in the south. No longer is it the "Civil War". It is now "The Woaah of Nawthurn Aggression." (The WHAT!?)

I've been to Tiawan, to China, Africa and even lived in the craziest of all - Sicily - but the deep south of our country is more foreign to me than all these other places. For instance, there is the confederate flag. To me, flying the confederate flag is akin to continuing to fly the Nazi flag. It doesn't really symbolize all that is good and kind in the world. But, some folks down south still love their confederate roots. And, not just those backwoods uneducated, gun-totting, red-necks.

The State of South Carolina proudly flew the Confederate Flag on the State House dome until 2,000 when it was removed to its own flagpole on the House grounds. The NAACP has voted their approval of this fallacious flag flying by declaring an economic boycott of the state and they are joined in this by other civil rights groups. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned holding sporting events in the state because of this continued flag presence. But...... the state is apparently standing by their right to fly this symbol of stupidity. They even honor their fallen confederate soldiers each May by giving all state employees a paid holiday in their honor. sigh……

The South is beautiful - some of it REALLY stunning - and I'd like to explore more, but I don't think I'll be packing my bags and moving there anytime soon.


  1. Every time I see someone displaying a confederate flag (which happened a lot in Texas) I wanted to walk up to the person and scream "YOU LOST!! WHY ARE YOU CELEBRATING BEING A LOSER?" I also want to point out the ludicrousness of celebrating being a patriotic American at the same time as waving the symbol of the traitors who wanted to fight to the death to avoid having to be Americans.

  2. Interesting and thought-provoking. Sue and I both worked at Civil War sites- she at Antietam and me at Harpers Ferry- so the whole question of battlefield preservation is very close to home. To me the importance of these sites is not in "glorifying war" (what a horrible concept!) but rather in making sure that people never forget what went on at these places not so long ago.

    There is an article in today's Washington Post that touches on what is undoubtedly an even more challenging issue of preservation and interpretation: the remains of the extermination camp at Auschwitz are falling apart.

    Auschwitz decays, prompting preservation effort

    My feeling is that it is our duty to preserve places like Auschwitz and Antietam's Bloody Lane, both out of respect for those that died there, and to do our best to get the message across to future generations that this must never happen again.

  3. Thank you for the comments, Bob. I visited Dachau 3 times - I could not get enough of it as it really helped me to understand the horrors of what happened there. As interesting as being there was - and I swear - the place is full of ghosts - were the displays. You could still feel the anger as every single photo that showed Hitler, someone had come through and scratched his face out.

    I fear for our country, and that we are as near a second Civil War as we've ever been.

    I do not and will not understand the continued pride in being a confederate and flying the flag.

  4. Absolutely agree with you there, Karen. I think a lot of the confederate flag-waving can be traced to the distorted picture that is presented of the war and its causes.

    I grew up in the north, for Pete's sake, and even there in high school history classes we were fed the line, "The Civil War was not really about slavery; it was about state's rights." This assertion-- a total whitewash of the southern position-- has been completely debunked, yet one still hears it over and over.

    And I despise the glorification of Robert E. Lee-- the man broke the oath he took as a United States soldier, a traitor pure and simple. In other countries he would have been hanged after the war, but instead we've allowed this myth to develop of Lee as a noble tragic hero. Nonsense.

    Myself, every time I hear some Confederate apologist talk about "the war between the states" or worse "the war of northern aggression", I reply, "Oh- do you mean the Slaveowners' Rebellion?"

    That usually gets my point across effectively.

  5. (Oooops- forgive the misspelling!)

  6. Uh, huh - State's rights to own slaves.......

    Slaveowners' Rebellion. Love it!