Friday, July 10, 2015

A Few Thoughts on the Flag Lowering Ceremony in South Carolina

My people, to borrow the phraseology of our former thug of an Attorney General, didn't march under Lee's battle flag. They marched for the rectangular version of the Army of Tennessee, not the first time McBane marched to some version of St. Andrew's Cross. The Army of Tennessee died in 1864 on the bloody ground around Franklin, south of Nashville, for the vain glory of a fool.

My people didn't keep slaves; they were slaves….unwilling indentures, losers in the English pogram against the Scot Highlanders after the disastrous battle of Culloden Moor. Exiled to the Colonies, forbidden the wearing of the plaid and the possession of weapons upon pain of death. But they won their freedom with the gun and the knife, allied with the doomed Cherokee and fought their long, losing retreat across the Blue Ridge into the fertile soil of west Tennessee and northeast Mississippi.

And when their adopted home of Tennessee called, those plain dirt farmers answered that call. Ron Maxwell, the director of the movie Gettysburg, gave this talk years back in response to a call by academics (natch) for Obama to not lay a wreath, as tradition called for, on the grave of Confederate dead. It is worth your time to read the whole thing:
We cannot wish our ancestors away, nor should we. In the act of designing and erecting these monuments and statues they are telling us what was important to them in their time. By leaving for us, their progeny, a record in stone, they are expressly calling upon us, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to remember. 
Shall we do as the professors who signed the letter to our president asked him to do — shall we heap scorn upon these monuments and chastise those who will not? Should we do as their doctrinaire kin in Afghanistan did? Shall we, like the Taliban, destroy our statues with dynamite because they offend a prevailing dogma? Shall we disinter the bones of our ancestors like the radical Jacobins of the French Revolution did, scattering their unearthed remains to the winds — first to be reviled, then ever to be forgotten?
Once I had a writing contract that allowed me to stay in a home near the Franklin battlefield. I got up right about dawn and went for a long walk along a two-land country road. The sun was just peaking up when I started, but a fog rolled up from the hollers, and pretty soon everything was grey and cold. I stood for a long time in that fog, listening, I guess, for gunfire and shouting and the mayhem of battle. But there was nothing but the muffled quiet.

The great songwriter Rodney Crowell once wrote this:

The Civil War hit Franklin
Harder than the rest of Tennessee
But a 100 years ain’t nothing
The South will rise again and set them free

The winds of old blow lightly
Over the valley with a neverending dream
While the rusty tinroof barnyards
Crumble at the old grey farmer's feet

But it’s gone like the life of a childWhen he turns his back on your mind
And tomorrow has no home sweet homes
Look what they've done to mine
It's faded into time


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. One thing you get on being on the losing side of a war, cultural or real, is great writing. Doesn't help a lot, but it helps some.

nj larry said...

"Shall we disinter the bones of our ancestors like the radical Jacobins of the French Revolution did, scattering their unearthed remains to the winds — first to be reviled, then ever to be forgotten?"

I just happened to be reading about the gone awry French Revolution a couple of weeks ago. It has been in the back of my mind since. The madness of this culture destruction has indeed reached a new low (or high). I saw this news story earlier this evening. City council votes to exhume Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Madness.

Anonymous said...

When all the flags have been taken down and when all the artifacts have been moved, what do we do next as a people?

Anonymous said...

NJ Larry. That's exactly what the liberals intend to do.
They are followers of the same consistently failed philosophy.
The flag burners of today are the same people who burned the Reichstag, shot Anastasia Romanov, and beheaded Marie Antoinette.
Thomas C. Bogan
Laconia NH

Sigman said...


My family is from Watauga County NC. When North Carolina voted on secession, 90% voted to stay in the Union. When North Carolina seceded anyway, several of my great great uncles and cousins joined the Confederate Army. My great great grandfather crossed the mountains and joined the Union, so it was literally brother against brother in my family. I honor all their service. The idea of erasing the symbols of the Confederacy is something right out of 1984. Some times I think our "betters" read 1984 and Animal Farm and saw them as how to manuals rather than the cautionary tales they were. What's next. Reeducation camps for those who think impure thoughts? These are truly frightening times.

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John said...

Well said, very well said.

My father's people lived in the Piedmont of North Carolina in what came to known as the Quaker Belt. They were, I am guessing, Wesleyan Methodists who, like the Quakers, were anti-slavery. I know my grandfather was a Republican to the day he died. That wasn't an easy thing to do in North Carolina as it was dominated by white supremacist Democrats.

My great-great grandfather Sandy Morgan served in the 34th NC Troops and was at Gettysburg in Pickett's Charge. He survived or I wouldn't be here. Another of my 2nd great-grandfathers, Eli Bean, was in the 49th NC Troops and was at the Battle of the Crater. As far as I know, they were too damn poor to be slaveholders.

I'm sure there were more Confederates in my ancestral attic but I doubt any of them fought to preserve slavery. More likely, they fought because they were drafted or because they saw their state invaded.

Do I wish there was never a Civil War in the United States? Absolutely but it is what is was and we damn sure shouldn't forget it.

Banning flags and digging up bodies does nothing more than get my Celtic blood (Irish, Scots, and Welsh) up.

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