Southern heritage: it's so much more than a flag
Regarding the Feb. 24 article "Battle over the past rages on in an evolving South": I am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and have ancestors both paternal and maternal who fought for the Confederacy. I have also lived in the South, the Midwest, West, and now in the Northeast.
During conversation, people will invariably say that I do not speak or behave like a Southerner. That raises the question, what is a Southerner? While my children understand their heritage, they understand the Civil War is a historical footnote in the history of the US. In short, it was 140 years ago and it is over.
We need to judge the South, and Southerners, by what occurs today, not what occurred 140 years ago. The people of the South - black and white - have reconciled the past, are dealing with the issues, and have moved on.
Being a native Texan, of course I feel strongly about my heritage. However, I would never want to see the flag of a losing cause flying over my capitol; I would never want to wear the uniform of the losing side, fighting against a country whose constitution I had originally pledged to defend; I would never want to offend another race who had been oppressed because of inaccurate historic vanity. The South is a wonderful place with God-fearing communities, patriotic young men and women serving our country - the United States of America.
There is no room for bigotry, racism, or uneducated opinions about history. If you really want to shine a good light on the positive traditions of the South, read the series, "What It Means To Be Southern," by Cecilia Budd Grimes. Preserve the gentility, honor, social order, and etiquette that is the South.
Being born and raised in the state of Alabama, I am of course very proud of my state and our history. It is very frustrating though to continually hear and read, mostly from people who have never spent a day of their life in the South, about how racism is still the predominant issue we face. We seem just to be an easy target for writers out of huge metropolitan (liberal) areas, such as New York and Los Angeles. They continue to bring up issues of what was, granted, a very dark past, but they do not recognize the huge strides that have been made since the days of slavery and segregated school systems.
Open your eyes to current racial problems in other regions and forget about confederate battle flags in cemeteries in a region that is trying to move on while remembering and learning from its past.
It's fine for the South to be proud of its heritage, just as the North still has streets named after Grant and other Civil War figures, but there needs to be an understanding along with the maintaining of that heritage.
Our whole country needs to understand the destruction and horror of what can happen when ideologies get out of control and suddenly life becomes cheap and no one looks past the "higher cause." Our country is facing this situation with respect to Islamic extremists, and also with respect to our obsession with bringing democracy to the world (not just in Iraq, but all the way back through the cold war and containment).
The actual motives behind proclaiming an ideal do not matter nearly as much once the ideal has been assumed by a culture. Containment may have been a defense policy, but we now have the mind-set of the policeman of the world. We need to ensure that the heritage of the Civil War serves as a warning against ideals gone amok.
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