Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Civil War Sunday (Special Edition) The Elephant in our National Closet

Sunday, in my Civil War Sunday feature, I blogged about an incident in Richmond, Virginia which made a very deep hate of "Yanks" (citizens of the United States living in the northern part of the country) very public.

As a northerner who has lived in three parts of the South, I trust I am not naive, and I am well aware that, for a portion of our population, the Civil War is still ongoing.  True, we don't have pitched battles with thousands dead, but there are verbal battles being fought every day.

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, this hatred has become an elephant in our collective national room.  We aren't supposed to hate each other.  We are supposed to be one nation, quoting a Civil War tourism piece I received recently from a state formerly part of the Confederate States of America - "once divided, now and forever united."

Problem is: many of us just don't know what to do with this 150th anniversary commemoration of the Civil War.

I went back to the article in the Richmond, VA Times-Dispatch article that documented a rally Saturday at the Lee Monument in Richmond.  The feelings of the day were not the official "feelings" of many other commemorations as one unit chanted (the exact quote was in my Sunday blog) about killing "Yankees". You have to know in your heart they aren't the only ones who feel that way.  They were just the ones who did it in public, not in a bar, not in their living room while socializing with friends.  (and ditto for those northerners who detest people from the South).

Maybe, in a way, these particular Sons of Confederate Veterans did us a favor.

150 years is too long to carry this hate.  Maybe it is about time we stop ignoring the elephant in our history, get it all out in the open and....then what? (I have no answer for that.)  In the meantime, I made a decision that I did not want to visit a place where people declared in public that they wanted me dead.

Maybe not personally dead (none of them know me) but still.....it is a creepy feeling.

I also went to a website called City-Data, which I have used before when getting ready to visit a new city, and looked up a discussion about northerners who had moved down south - were they comfortable with their decision?  Or had they decided to return North?.  Some portions of that discussion had become a debate about the Civil War, which wasn't the intent of the original discussion.

Many of the northerners felt uncomfortable living in the South and had returned home.  I didn't go to a similar discussion board (but flipped around - Southerners living in the North) - my guess is it wasn't too complimentary of the North.  So....

How do we acknowledge the elephant?  Is it too late for my generation?  Can this be overcome through education?

Ah, education.  We all learn about the Civil War in some way, be it in school or at home, don't we.  But how and what do we learn?  What a topic for a future Civil War Sunday post.

So I will ask:
Whether you are from a former Confederate state or not, (and if you are not a citizen of the United States you are welcome to comment if you learned about our Civil War in school), what did you learn in school?  If you studied more about the Civil War after leaving school, did your further studies conflict with what you learned in school?  What did you learn from your family, your friends?

And finally - Is there hope that we will lose this hate in our lifetimes?

1 comment:

  1. Well I went to a small private school in NJ. I don't remember a lick of lessons about the Civil War. Here in SC the kids get SC history in elementary and high school. From what I've seen it seems to be a balanced, un-biased presentation.

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