Thursday, March 21, 2013
We Defend Because We Must
By Bob Hurst
As I begin to write this article, I have only recently returned from a wonderful event in Biloxi, Mississippi, that was held at Beauvoir , the retirement home of Jefferson Davis. The beautiful complex at Beauvoir, which is owned and maintained splendidly by the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was damaged severely by the storm surge created by Hurricane Katrina. Restoration of the mansion was completed several years ago and was celebrated by a huge gathering of people from all over the South who were in attendance that day.
The mansion, which was built very sturdily in 1852, received some damage from the storm but the remaining structures of the complex were completely destroyed. This included the museum/library building. The dedication ceremony for the new Jefferson Davis Presidential Library was the highlight of the event in Biloxi on March 16th.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans had designated this Confederate Heritage Rally as the Sesquicentennial Event of 2013 and the magnificent museum/library building was a worthy recipient of the designation. The structure is absolutely beautiful from every angle. The attendees I spoke with seemed to be as impressed as I with this grand shrine to our president. The restored mansion and the rebuilt library/museum truly complement each other and make for a beautiful vista on the gulf.
I had plenty of time on the drive back to Tallahassee that evening (and into the morning) to think about the importance of this event and the many other events that are held each year to honor our Confederate heroes. These events are especially crucial in this time of political correctness and great division in this country. As I continued the drive toward home and a warm bed I thought of the events I had already participated in this year or I know of that are coming up in the near future.
I thought of a presentation I had given in mid-January to the United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter in Monticello, Florida, and found pleasure in the fact that meetings of this type are held all over the South every month. I also was informed at this meeting by the commander of the SCV camp in this fine old Southern town (who was in attendance) that his camp had begun fundraising for a planned site on Interstate 10 just south of town where a large flagpole will be erected from which will be flown a huge Confederate flag. This will be the fourth such flag site in Florida sponsored by the Florida Division, SCV, or an affiliate camp. I truly love these sites which are a very visible way to honor our Confederate ancestors.
This event was followed a couple weeks later by the 2013 Stephen Dill Lee Institute which was held this year in St. Augustine, Florida. The SDLI is a wonderful event where a number of noted scholars and authors make presentations on a topic of interest to Southerners. These are always factual presentations that are not tainted with the stain of political correctness so prevalent in much of academia. Attendees of this gathering came from as far away as Virginia. The location of the SDLI changes from state to state each year and we were very happy to have it in Florida for the first time.
Later in February I had the privilege of speaking at the Lee-Jackson Banquet sponsored by the SCV camp in Albany, Georgia. I always enjoy these banquets where good Southerners get together and celebrate their personal heritage while honoring two great heroes – Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan Jackson, immortalized as "Stonewall". This event had about a hundred people in attendance and, as I recall, there were about a dozen SCV camps represented by the attendees. It pleases me so much that hundreds of these banquets are held all over the South each year during January and February.
The first weekend in March brought the re-enactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge which is located just a few miles south of Tallahassee. Natural Bridge is especially important to true Southerners in this area since the Confederate victory there allowed Tallahassee the distinction of being the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi River not taken by the yankee horde during the War.
The second weekend in March brought the Camp Gordon Johnston Reunion Weekend Parade in the small coastal town of Carrabelle, Florida. I especially like this event since my father was one of the more than 200,000 World War II American soldiers who received amphibious training at Camp Gordon Johnston before shipping out for either Europe or the Pacific. In my dad’s case it was Normandy and an eventual Silver Star. I also enjoy this parade because the crowd there always loves our SCV float big time. Good stuff, that!
The third weekend in March, of course, brought Biloxi and the Presidential Library/Museum dedication ceremony.
April is shaping up to be a busy month. I am scheduled to speak twice – once early in the month and once late. The first presentation is in Talladega, Alabama. I usually don’t travel that far from Tallahassee to speak but Talladega happens to be my hometown and when momma calls…well, I think you understand. The later presentation is in Moultrie, Georgia, as a part of the Confederate Memorial Day celebration in that fine town. There are two events in Tampa during April that I hope to be able to fit into my schedule. The first is on April 20th and involves the dedication of a new monument honoring Tampa area veterans, including Confederates. The second is on April 27th and is a Confederate Memorial Day celebration to be held at Confederate Park at the junction of I-75 and I-4. This will feature the raising of a huge (30′ X 50′) Confederate 3rd National Flag. This will likely be the largest 3rd National flying anywhere.
I would think that it would appear to many readers, at this point, that with all these events occurring in close proximity to just one location (Tallahassee) that the assumption can be made that there are legions of events occurring all around the Southland so the defense of our Confederate heritage must be well in hand and easily under control.
If so, you would be mistaken.
It seems that the attacks on Southern heritage continue to increase and occur in some very unlikely places. I will not attempt an entire litany of these attacks since that would be voluminous. I will mention several of the most egregious, at least in my opinion.
The most current attack occurred in Memphis and is still continuing. At a meeting in early February, the Memphis City Council voted to change the names of three Memphis parks. These three parks – Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park – have been Memphis landmarks for decades. All seven black members of the council voted for the name change plan which assured approval of the plan even though no permanent name changes had been suggested.
This rushed vote was taken because a bill had been filed (but not yet voted upon) in the Tennessee legislature that would prevent cities from altering any "statue, monument, memorial, nameplate or plaque" erected for a number of military events including the War Between the States. The Memphis council wanted to take action before this bill could be voted on in the legislature.
Memphis is rapidly becoming (if it has not already reached that point) the "Detroit of the South". Yet the council, which obviously can’t deal with such issues as rampant crime and business leaving the city, can rush a vote on changing the names of historic parks because they are Confederate-related. Hey, let’s just do away with all American history prior to 1965. I guess it just comes down to priorities.
This changing of the names of historic parks because they are somehow deemed offensive reminds me of the Taliban blowing up those two statues of Buddha that were carved into the side of a mountain a thousand years ago. They, too, were considered offensive. Perhaps more fitting would be a comparison with the communist practice of changing names to make some people "non-persons". How "Stalinesque" of the Memphis city council. I’m proud to say that the SCV in Memphis and surrounding areas is planning to challenge this atrocity in court.
Another inflammatory action occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a city council member (later the Vice-Mayor) proposed removing statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and a representative Confederate soldier from their locations in that college town. Ironically, the Lee statue is located in "Lee Park", the Jackson statue in "Jackson Park" and the Confederate soldier statue in the cemetery at the University of Virginia where more than a thousand Confederate soldiers sleep eternally.
Wouldn’t you just know it, the council member who proposed this ridiculousness is not a native Virginian nor did she attend college there (she attended Grinnell College in Iowa and Northwestern University in Chicago) but she is a board member of the local NAACP in Charlottesville.
Another anti-Confederate attack occurred in Lexington, Virginia, which happens to be the final resting place for both General Lee and General Jackson, when the city council there voted to disallow the flying of any Confederate flag from a public structure anywhere in the town. Interestingly, when I was there last year for Lee-Jackson Day there were large banners hung across several streets proclaiming the upcoming "Martin Luther King Day". Hmmm… large banners for a proven plagiarizer, womanizer and Communist sympathizer but no flags to honor two native sons who were great generals and great gentlemen.
The list of attacks on Confederate figures also includes an attempt at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to have the name of the ROTC building changed since it had long borne the name of the magnificent Nathan Bedford Forrest. This was a student-inspired action by a few dissidents that was not successful but a frieze of General Forrest on horseback that had adorned the building was removed as a result of the complaint.
All attacks on Southern heritage are not relegated to the South. This past December, Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, removed a beautiful statue titled "The Rebels" from the campus location where it had stood for years. School trustees also voted (by a slim 5-4 margin) to retire the school’s "Rebel" nickname and mascot. I have also read where the trustees are considring changing the name of the school itself. The supposed reason for these changes was that the Confederate references might be "offensive" to minority students. What if the changes are "offensive" to white students on campus? Would the same concern be shown? It’s not even necessary to ask.
These are just a few of the attacks on Southern history and heritage that have taken place in recent years. I did not discuss other actions such as the considered removal of four statues of Confederate figures from the South Mall of the University of Texas campus nor the continuing effort by some minority members of the Georgia legislature to get legislation passed that would require the removal of the iconic carving of Confederate leaders from the face of Stone Mountain.
These attempts and many more have been unsuccessful but who knows what the future may hold. With changing demographics the situation is likely not going to get any better. It seems that many minorities have adopted a battle cry that goes something like this: "I am OFFENDED and I DEMAND that you REMOVE your history to APPEASE my delicate sensibilities." This attitude seems to be most prevalent in more militant individuals and what Rush Limbaugh calls "low information voters". These individuals, though, with assistance and financial support from their liberal, progressive, radical supporters can cause much mayhem.
I don’t know when, or if, this "being offended" nonsense will end. Who knows, the "always complaining people" may soon call for the pyramids to be torn down because they were built with slave labor, or for the Roman Coliseum to be destroyed because slaves were forced to fight there. I do know that the "feelings" of these "offended" people do not trump mine or those of others like me. I am proud of my Confederate Southern ancestry and heritage and will fight until there is no fight left in me to defend and preserve it. Why? Because I must!
In closing, let me leave you with the words of a wondrous person, Joan of Arc: "One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying."
God Bless the South.