This is new news to me, but apparently it’s an idea that’s alive and kicking–the creation of an annual federal holiday celebrating the South’s defeat, on April 9 — the date Robert E. Lee surrendered, ending the Civil War. The New Republic opines that Southerners should embrace the notion, and stop taking it personally when, say, people insist that Great-Great Grandpa was no better than a Nazi.
Read The New Republic article here.
I’m a liberal, progressive, seventh-generation Southerner who had ancestors in the war; my great-great grandfather, a dirt-poor farmer who didn’t own slaves, fought in the Georgia infantry throughout the entire war, and came home to a brutally savaged world with one arm mutilated by a minnie ball. Sherman’s army occupied an ancestor’s farm on the Chattahoochee River, building pontoon bridges on Sherman’s route to burn Atlanta (and everything else in his path.) Southern civilians of all classes and colors were attacked; lost their homes, and were left to starve. Reconstruction was a license for politicians and other thieves to loot what was left. In the meantime, the northern factories that had benefited from cheap Southern cotton (using their own form of slave labor to process it) continued on their merry way.
Do I celebrate the mythology of the Old South? No. Do I like to see rednecks waving Confederate flags as a symbol of racism? No. Do I want to sugarcoat the horror of slavery? No. But I have a distinct mindset of resentment for a federal “holiday” celebrating the hypocrisy, war profiteering, needless brutality, Northern bigotry, corruption, and history-as-written-by-the-victors.