Sunday, July 12, 2015

Civil War Sunday - Crafting Civil War Conversations

I never thought that my Civil War Sunday series would take this kind of turn.

On Friday, the Confederate battle flag was finally taken down from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse.  I saw it flying in March of this year when I visited Columbia, the capital of South Carolina.

One media source described the ceremony as "bizarre".  I wonder how my many foreign readers think about this.

Taking down the flag is something that I wasn't sure I would ever see this happen in my lifetime.  But what it took was a tragic shooting - and the reaction, one of forgiveness, from the families of the slain, now called the "Charleston Nine", to spur this action.  

But then I thought more about some of the other things I saw and experienced in Columbia in March.

And, to the best of my knowledge, a marble plaque with the Orders of Secession of South Carolina (the document published as they became the first state to leave the Union, in December of 1860) still occupy an honored place in the state capital building.  (I highly recommend, by the way, taking the tour of the state house.  It is fantastic.)

But, on the other hand (and there is another hand):


I visited an exhibit at the University of South Carolina called "Crafting Civil War Conversations". So ironic that the exhibit ended in May, right before the shootings.

Quoting from their website:  "The Museum invited artists from across the Southeast who work in what historically have been regarded as craft-based media--clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood--to imagine the Civil War’s end as a scene of reconciliation—not between the North and the South—but between former slaves and former slave owners."

The above maple bust of President Lincoln was part of this exhibit.  I thought I had taken other pictures, but they seem to have disappeared from my photo cache.

The purpose of the exhibit was to start a conversation between the descendents of slaves and the descendents of slave owners.  Sadly, that conversation never took place after the Civil War.  What became known as "Reconstruction", the years after the war's end, took another turn all together.

Could it be possible that we may finally have a real conversation, and face our collective attitudes, about this war that ended 150 years ago this year but still colors our everyday life?  I'm not sure.  I think about this daily, but still can't find the words to write the words I want to write.

Instead, I will go back to a moment in time where I found myself writing a post about hate - early 2012.

Ironically, when I changed where I was going to vacation after this incident, we visited - Charleston, South Carolina.

Civil War Sunday-Hate in Virginia Cancels My Trip

Sorry, but my north is going to be showing today, and big time.  I will keep this short and sweet.  And I am so sorry I have to do this.

I am in the closing stages of planning a vacation in March to visit some Civil War sites.  I had wanted to visit the Newport News area to see the Mariner's Museum but it is closed part of the week, and I just couldn't make it fit.

So I was giving a little thought to going to Richmond, Virginia, which was the capital of the Confederate States of America.  Richmond is a treasure trove of Civil War history, as is Virginia in general. 

Well....that trip is, shall we say, history.

I've blogged before about the fact that, as much as we feel we are one country, the Civil War still lies right underneath the skin of many of us.  What I mean by that (sadly) is, it doesn't take too much to scratch under that skin and have some very ugly things bubble up.

There was one such bubbling up in Richmond, VA yesterday.

It wasn't just the Civil War Memory blog that reported the incident of marchers chanting the following:  The Richmond Times-Dispatch paper also reported this incident of Sons of Confederate Veterans chanting the following during a march:


What do we do?
Kill Yankees
How Many?
All of them

 So....I am still going to make the trip.  I will spend time in the Carolinas, and in Maryland.

The Virginia part of the trip will be cancelled.  I am not welcome there.

This Yank will have no such part of such hate. 

6 comments:

  1. Oh dear. I did read that the confederate flag was removed. I wonder what will follow.
    Attitudes change so slowly, as we saw in your proposed trip to Virginia. I appreciate how you mentioned the museum that was trying to bring about reunification between former slaves and owners. But I can see how awkward that would be, too. I guess the best we can do is move forward and hope others do too. Thank you for this post.

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  2. I would have been a great step toward reconciliation if the children of slaves became friendly with the children of slave owners. What a great shame that things have not worked out that way. I hang my head in sympathy for you.

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  3. It is such a sad, bizarre world we're living in now! I can fully understand your reluctance to go some place where you could be in danger from some "nut job." But seriously, with the rich heritage and history in Virginia...now what? My hubby has been saying he is afraid of the direction our nation is heading in many ways, but this now has the appearance of another north vs. south conflict. Hope not...

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  4. I always learn something interesting about US History when I visit your blog.

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  5. One of these days we'll come to terms with all of this. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but someday...

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  6. It's sad that the war lingers on even 150 years after it ended. But the decision in South Carolina is a good sign. I grew up in Virginia but my parents were Yankees, having migrated here after my dad served in World War II. I remember an elementary school teacher telling my class that the Civil War was fought over state's rights. People still claim that. There is a great shame over slavery and folks hate to admit that it happened.

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