Sunday, June 28, 2015

Civil War Sunday - History Before Our Eyes

Although the United States Civil War officially ended (for the most part) 150 years ago this past April, I've always maintained that the war never truly ended.  Now, in the almost two weeks after a tragic mass murder during a Bible Study class at a Charleston, South Carolina church, we are seeing still another battle in this seemingly never ending war.

Whether our country will have a true dialog about race, and the legacy of the Civil War as a result of this horrific act, or if it will just be a lot of empty talk and then business as usual, remains to be seen.  But the war that has been simmering under our surface is now more public than ever.  At least surface changes are made.  Perhaps the changes are symbolic, or won't hit upon the tough issues, but the fact is - people are thinking.

I am not blogging today to express my opinions.  Rather, I want to show you pictures of some of the sites that have been in the news.  It's hard to explain this to my readers in Great Britain and India, but I will try.  Even a month ago, in my wildest dreams, I would never have imagined the events of the past almost two weeks.


Where do I even begin?

With the College of Charleston, where one of the funerals took place on Friday?  Their President is a former state senator (noting one of the dead in the shooting was a state senator) and a former lieutenant governor, and was a controversial choice when hired last year.
March, 2015, taken by AM
This is the South Carolina State Senate Chamber, where the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the murdered nine, served. The American flag is on the left and the South Carolina state flag on the right.  Outside this chamber, a Confederate flag flew near a monument on the grounds of the State Capitol. Now, debate rages on whether that flag should be taken down.  

The above President of the College of Charleston?  His views on that question.

Many Southerners will have to ponder how best to celebrate their heritage.
Mt. Pleasant Fishing Pier at Ravenel Bridge at Sunset, March 2015

The Arthur Ravenel, Jr.  Bridge, which connects Charleston, South Carolina with Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, is a favorite destination for walkers and bikers.  I've walked on it a number of times (and completed the entire walk in both directions once). A week ago today, thousands of people (perhaps 40,000)  marched on this bridge. Some joined hands in a "unity chain" to show support for the people of the City of Charleston.  But the elderly man the bridge is named after - now 88 years old- is, himself, controversial.  There was an effort to rename the bridge earlier this year, which failed. 
Taken March, 2015, by AM, before the defacement

This Civil War Confederate Monument in Charleston was defaced several days ago. (I totally reject this kind of activity, be it a Union or Confederate monument.) Debate now is taking place about whether these monuments should be taken down.

This is a Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans license place (picture taken by me at a Civil War reenactment I attended). A Confederate battle flag design is on the left side.    This specialty plate, it appears, will no longer be permitted.

Some former Confederate states had incorporated Confederate flag designs in their state flags. They are now rethinking it.  Could this be because the shooter was photographed burning an American flag, and holding Confederate flags?  But, although the Confederate flag is publically debated, it must also be noted that there are thousands of streets, parks, and other public places named after Confederate figures - one, in particular, stirring controversy, due to what he did after the war.


The families of those murdered, the people of Charleston, and people of the South, have some hard days coming as they must work out the direction their future will take. 

5 comments:

  1. Well said. We cannot change our history. Should Europe remove all the concentration camps open for tourists and pretend WWII didn't happen? Same with removing statues of Civil War figures. They were who they were and are there to remind some of us what our nation has endured. The Confederate flag did not make someone want to kill. Folks will always find a reason to hate. Just look at some of the bloggers talking about the decision of the Supreme Court last week. Ugh! I may have to take up drinking or sell my computer.

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  2. I don't get it - hiding the past will not make it go away. As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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  3. If we are ignorant about our history. ..we will be sure to repeat it. ..thanks for sharing and educating us

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  4. What I find fascinating is how this has turned into a debate over the Confederate flag rather than a discussion on gun control. Not that it wasn't time for the conversation about that flag. But isn't it interesting how we've been distracted from talking about the guns again...

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  5. Interesting opinion piece from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/01/why-do-people-believe-myths-about-the-confederacy-because-our-textbooks-and-monuments-are-wrong/?tid=pm_pop_b

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