Today is Confederate Memorial Day in the Carolinas
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Today, May 10th, in North Carolina and South Carolina, is Confederate Memorial Day.
I am reminded of the local “Sons of Confederate Veterans”
Confederate Memorial Day celebration, which I attend every year. When
last I spoke to the gathering I spoke of the Confederate Soldier, or as
I sometimes refer to them, the “Southern Knights.”
it was a celebration of the southern warrior, I spoke on the attributes
of the Confederate soldier… who he was, what he was like, what he did,
what he felt, why he did what he did, and why he felt he MUST do what he did, and so on, and so forth.
one studies the Confederate soldier, one quickly comes to understand
that there has never been, before or after the American “War Between the States”, a warrior quite like the “Southern Knights”.
As a combat soldier, he was more akin to the various “special forces”
of numerous militaries around the world than he was to the “regular”
soldiers we are acquainted with today. He was a killing machine… with good manners.
is impossible to overlook the fact that 800,000 badly equipped, badly
clothed, badly fed, but wonderfully led Confederate soldiers managed to
hold at bay 2-1/2 million federal troops of the US military for four of
the longest, bloodiest, years in American history. They were masterful
at the art of war.
It is absolutely shameful
that political correctness has driven its talons so deeply into American
consciousness that to speak of the Confederate soldier in anyway other
than as a defender of slavery is totally unacceptable. Modern day
ancestors of the Confederate soldier are taught that their great, great,
great, great grandfathers were traitors! There is no other way to
address that accusation but to say it is a bald-faced lie.
Confederate soldier was a citizen of another country. He was a citizen
of the Confederate States of America, not the United States of
America. One cannot betray a country of which one is not a citizen.
Plus, there is this fact: Something like 97% of the citizens of the Confederacy owned NO slaves. Common sense says men do not put their lives on the line, in a war, to preserve another man’s right to hold other human beings in bondage!
An article I recently read persistently nags at me. It is an article by Paul Gottfried entitled: “On Loving To Hate The South.”
Referring to my compatriots in the “Sons of Confederate Veterans” Mr. Gottfried said: “You
may take pride in those whom you honor as your linear ancestors but
equally in the anger of those who would begrudge you the right to honor
them. What your critics find inexcusable is that you are celebrating
your people’s past, which was a profoundly conservative one based on
family and community, and those who created and defended it. For your
conspicuous indiscretions, I salute you; and I trust that generations to
come will take note of your willingness to defy the spirit of what is
both a cowardly and tyrannical age.” Mr. Gottfried nailed it! You can read Mr. Gottfried’s entire article at: http://takimag.com/article/on_loving_to_hate_the_south/print#axzz2SnoHOm6E
Mr. Gottfried had said earlier in his article that we “Southern
traditionalists are still celebrating a pre-bourgeois, agrarian, and
communally structured world. It appealed to hierarchy, place, and
family; and its members displayed no special interest in reaching out to
alien cultures. Such ideals and attitudes and the landed, manorial
society out of which they came, point back to a nineteenth century
It is here we find the root cause of the virulent hatred for the ensign of the Southern soldier, the Confederate Battle Flag, and for the hatred of the people of the Southern region of the United States. It is our conservatism. It is our unyielding determination to hold on to the conservative values of our Southern ancestors.
year, as I attend Confederate Memorial Day events, I watch my fellow
Southerners stand in silent reverence as the troops bearing the US flag
pass and I watch as we all stand and recited the Pledge of Allegiance to
the US flag, and then the NC state flag, and then to the Confederate
flag. I see no contradiction. These are
gatherings of conservative people who love and honor their country, the
USA, just as their Southern Ancestors loved and honored THEIR country, the Confederate States of America. We were remembering THEM and honoring THEM and the commonality of that conservative philosophy which is STILL alive and well in their off-spring today.
of us in the South today worry that we see many of the same causes of
the conflict of the 1860’s reflected in the political conflicts between
liberal and conservative Americans today. Having yet not fully
recovered from the so-called “Reconstruction” of the South after
that bitter war, we are concerned that, as remote as it may seem, to
those not versed in the history of this country, we may be headed for another conflict in which Americans will square-off with fellow Americans.
are dangerous times for America. Standing in silence and watching
those two red, white, and blue flags that once flew over the two nations
that briefly occupied this land is always a sobering moment. To realize
that only the people living below those flags can prevent a repetition
of history is equally as sobering. It is a jolting moment for this scribe when I think that it could happen all over again!
Never has America been as divided since the War Between the States. We are, today, two countries living beneath a single flag,
as a gentleman from South Carolina reminded me a few years ago. As he
spoke his eyes were downcast gazing at the sacred soil of that old
cemetery and his head was slowly shaking from side to side as if to say
“NO” to the unthinkable. But I could not escape the thought that it obviously wasn’t unthinkable as we stood just six feet, or so, above the earthly remains of a Confederate soldier screaming in silence a warning that history says will go unheeded.
© J.D. Longstreet