A nation of sleepwalkers — even southerners forget their history

Warner Todd Huston
July 6, 2007

Many Americans from the north like to scoff that our southern brethren are still fighting the Civil War, treating them as if they are unaware that the war was over nearly 150 years ago. It has been so often repeated that southerners are still "Confederate" that the stereotype of the southerner looking to the past instead of the future is secure in northerner’s minds. Would that it were true that all southerners are so fond of their history because it appears that even one of the most famous Confederate cemeteries in the Confederacy’s very own capitol is being forgotten, uncared for, and repeatedly vandalized.

The bad news is that Oakwood cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, is being forgotten and ignored, and, as mentioned, it is also being increasingly vandalized. The good news is that a community group has not only volunteered to take upon themselves the upkeep and maintenance of the final resting place of 17,000 Confederate soldiers, but they have already raised $100,000 to do so. They have also gotten the blessing and legislative support of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the effort.

But even as dozens of grave markers are vandalized repeatedly by God knows who, the city of Richmond refuses even to take a meeting with the Sons of Confederate Veterans who are ready to take on the duty.

Blame should be heaped upon the sloping shoulders of Mayor Doug Wilder who is famous for encouraging local involvement in city business. Local involvement is great as far as Wilder is concerned, as long as that involvement isn’t by the SCV, an organization that doesn’t fit into the politically correct world in which the good mayor inhabits, it seems.

Worse, he doesn’t seem in too great a hurry even to make sure this constant vandalizing of headstones is stopped. The Richmond police have made claims that they will increase their patrols in the area, but what does that really mean, anyway?

And what has been done to repair the broken monuments? City workers have indifferently used unprofessional materials and slipshod methods to do so. Headstones can be seen throughout the cemetery that have been slathered with globs of Gorilla Glue instead of properly repaired like the headstones taken care of by the SCV.

So, we have a local population so indifferent as to raise children who haven’t the tiniest bit of reverence for the honored dead (and who else would be roaming cemeteries at night toppling grave stones?) but they have also elected a Mayor who turns his back on those same dead and won’t even bother with a self financed community group that can take the duty off his obviously uncaring hands.

This does not speak well to the stereotype that southerners are so enflamed by reverence for their history if they are so unconcerned over the fate of Oakwood cemetery. But this is in no way particular to Richmond. All across this country Americans are forgetting about their history. Schools are more interested in teaching about how evil the U.S.A. is instead of how wonderful it is. Why should our children have much respect for our past when all they learn in their classes is how bad the U.S. is, after all?

And, why should anyone get so upset about this whole cemetery going into disrepair business? Isn’t it the government’s duty to take care of these things, not yours and mine? We can all go on about our business because the Nanny state is in charge. Let’s all not bother our little heads about anything as unimportant as our history, right?

Yes, let’s just not worry about all this. It’s some else’s job anyway.

I would hope that Mayor Wilder would take up this attitude, of course. Make it someone else’s job, Mayor. Make the upkeep off Oakwood cemetery the job of the SCV, will you Mayor Wilder? At least take a meeting with your constituents and hear them out.

And Mayor, please stop ignoring and being so hateful of our heritage.

© Copyright 2007 by Warner Todd Huston

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