Egbert A. Ross SCV Camp
Charlotte, North Carolina
The Egbert A. Ross Camp, the only SCV camp in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, demonstrated this past Sunday, 16 May, its ongoing commitment to aggressive heritage defense and community involvement. Rich Woods, the commander of the Ross Camp, served as master of ceremonies. The event was organized by Horace Ledford. In the picture at the lower left, the 63rd North Carolina, commanded by Mike Long, fires a volley in tribute to our Confederate dead.
Lisle Crayton, Laura Elliott and Elizabeth Harris placed wreaths at the monument, and each member of the Ross Camp placed a rose on the graves of the soldiers buried in the Confederate section of Elmwood, which is maintained by the Ross Camp. Mike Tuggle delivered the main address, which is copied below.
Incidentally, the Battleflag in the left lower picture is the same flag that flew at the 1929 reunion of the Confederate Veterans in Charlotte, NC.
Southern Heritage: More than nostalgia
Michael C. Tuggle
It is an honor for me to be allowed to speak at the Egbert Ross Sons of Confederate Veterans’ observation of Confederate Memorial Day. Our purpose for meeting here today is very simple and completely out in the open, and that is to honor our courageous ancestors, and at least in the space of this Sunday afternoon, to remember them and what they fought for.
We honor and we remember them knowing full well that doing so is misunderstood by so many these days. Some are mystified that we would put on period dress and take up the antique arms of soldiers who bled and died 135 years ago, others accuse us of living in the past. Of course, those who ridicule us for reclaiming our past would not dare question any other ethnic group for remembering their past.
And as we all know, there are others who insinuate evil motives for what we are doing today, again, something that apparently does not apply to any other people. Only Southerners are suspect for honoring their own. I cannot think of a better response to this bias against Southerners than what a New York-born, former Marxist intellectual named Eugene Genovese said on this subject:
"To speak positively about any part of the Southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity – an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white Southerners … of their heritage, and, therefore, of their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame. Still, we may doubt that many young Southerners believe that Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, John C. Calhoun and James Henley Thornwell, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were other than admirable men. It is one thing to silence people, another to convince them. And to silence them on matters central to their self-respect and dignity is to play a dangerous game – to build up in their harsh resentments that, sooner or later, are likely to explode and bring out their worst."
Now, the outsider’s perspective that Dr. Genovese gives us hits the nail right on the head. We Southerners are caught up in the whirlwind of modern political debate so much that it’s sometimes difficult to see what’s happening to us, and sometimes it takes an outsider to put things in perspective for us. What he describes is exactly what is happening today. Young Southerners are being shamed out of their heritage, and out of their identity. And we have the good fortune to hear from another outsider just why this is going on.
If you go to a Civil War battlefield these days, you will no longer see the story of the brave soldiers who fought and died. Instead, the National Park Service presents the battle in the simplistic terms of the forces of freedom and enlightenment versus the forces of slavery. We can thank Jesse Jackson, Jr, the son of the esteemed Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson Jr. represents the Chicago area in Congress, and he introduced the legislation that makes all Civil War battlefield parks reinterpret what they tell visitors. I would like to read at length from Jesse Jackson’s remarks to employees of the National Park Service, in which he explains his reasons behind the legislation:
"I learned very early on that politics in Congress has a lot less to do with Democrats and Republicans, left or right, liberal or conservative, and a lot more to do with North and South.
I listened very carefully to the rhetoric, not only of Democrats but also of Republicans. And I wanted to know more about the underlying currents of this North-South political dynamic. I went on three different tours of Civil War sites in the eastern theater.
As I sought and probed answers to very difficult questions from some members of the National Park Service, many of those who did not know I was a member of Congress, informed me that in order to change their opinion about what they saw and did, it would take nothing less than an act of Congress.
"So, less than one session later, I have given those folks their act of Congress. Now let me try to tell you my perspective once again. This time with the force of the law. Racism or states rights, that is, states rights as a cover for racism, is a major reason prohibiting us from building a more perfect union. Whatever you feel about Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, moderates on economic issues, or liberals and conservatives on social issues, no period in history is greater in defining who we see ourselves as today as the Civil War. So, into the interior bill, I introduced language to put the battles in a particular context.
I believe in the year 2000 that it is clear that the crisis will be resolved only when every American is: provided with economic security–employment, health care, education, and housing. Not long ago I proposed an amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting every American the right to an education of equal high quality.
I am arguing for more social programs; my colleagues are arguing for more tax breaks. All are part of the dynamic that this event–the Civil War–created for contemporary American politics. As Garry Wills has suggested in his marvelous book on the Gettysburg Address, the interpretation of Gettysburg battlefield has most to do with redefining the nation in the context of the Declaration of Independence rather than in the context of the Constitution."
That’s the end of Jesse Jackson’s address to employees of the National Park Service explaining his legislation to redefine the Civil War as a noble crusade against slavery.
This is what our struggle is all about, straight from the mouth of one of our most conspicuous opponents, Jesse Jackson, Jr. I’m sure that the Reverend Jesse Jackson is very proud of what his son is doing. Congressman Jesse Jackson understands very well what Southern heritage is all about, and what it would mean to eliminate it. The Southern political tradition is opposed to big government. It is opposed to socialism. If you want socialism, if you want the government to act as a nursemaid for the entire population, and provide for them from cradle to grave, then the Southern tradition is most certainly in your way. It’s what Alexander Stephens once said, "The Cause of the South is the Cause of us all." And he was right. Lincoln’s Revolution is going to be brought to its natural conclusion, which Jesse Jackson tells us means the redefining of the Constitution, and the redefinition of America.
There was a time in this country when the principles of individual rights, of strong, supportive, communities, of Christian-based social order guided our behavior. That was a time when the culture that provided the backbone of this country was honored and respected.
What do we have today? Government rules and regulations have replaced traditional behavior and common sense. And what’s the effect when legalistic conformity prevents people from naturally interacting and working things out among themselves? What happens when natural bonds are dissolved by bureaucratic edict?
Simple – society breaks down. The divorce rate hovers around 50%. The prison population has just reached 2 million people – the highest of any country in the world. The rate of illegitimate births continues to rise. Our Constitutional rights are being taken away one by one. Because the Federal government will not control our borders, it must protect us from terrorists in our midst by eliminating the Bill of Rights, and they have done this by passing the so-called "Patriot Acts" . The Federal government must have the power to enter our homes and businesses without a search warrant, it claims it can deny you your right to know why you have been imprisoned, and it says that it can take away your right to an attorney.
The 10 Commandments, the most visible symbol of Christianity, is under attack everywhere.
These are the outward signs of a society in decay. These are the signs of a society that has lost its spiritual and social foundations. In place of a culture based on Christianity and Western traditions, we look to big government to solve all of our problems and to make all of life’s difficult decisions for us. But the lesson of the Soviet Union should be clear: government cannot remake the world for the better. The rigid rules of bureaucrats can never hope to capture the wisdom of past generations passed down to the present generation. That’s what heritage is. Government, as that famous Virginia farmer George Washington once warned us, is force, not reason. There is no substitute for a life-giving, supportive culture.
But for those who care for nothing but political power, a unified people and their uniting culture stand in the way. Southern culture is not just nostalgia. Like any other culture, it is a set of shared beliefs and loyalties that guide our actions as we interact with other people. Culture is the foundation of self-government. Destroy the culture, and you create chaos, which is what the dictators and would-be dictators want, which is an opportunity to impose their own order by force. That’s why we Southerners and our flag are under attack. As Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. told the employees of the National Park Service, Southern pride is a shield against socialism, a shield that is in his way.
So it is clear that our enemies know the real issue here. The reason Southern heritage is under attack is because it is an impediment to big government, which has run amuck in the last few decades. Those so-called Southerners who think that if we make ourselves weak, and don’t say anything, our enemies will maybe overlook us — are simply fooling themselves.
But the good news is that it’s not just our enemies who understand what is at stake here. Our young people know it, too, even when we adults seem not to understand. A few months ago, another high school principal, this time in Roxboro, North Carolina, banned all Confederate Battleflags on school grounds. But some of the students refused to give in, and wore Dixie Outfitters shirts the next day, knowing they would be suspended, and they were. One of the students, a 10th grader named Roger Moore, said this to a reporter: "The Confederate flag is a symbol of less government, less taxes, and people governing themselves. It’s not a racist flag."
But listen to what Brian Williams, a 9th grader at the school told a reporter why he defied the ban: "It wasn’t a flag for slavery. It was a flag we fought under." This young man knows who he is and who his people are.
Let me give one more example of how the government schools are being used to destroy us, and how some young people are reacting.
Hannah Ingram was a gifted singer who, without a doubt, was on her way to breaking into the music industry and quite possibly would have become a major performer. I heard her perform at the Abbeville, South Carolina Auditorium last summer. She was 16 years old, she was a lovely and lively blue-eyed blonde, and she sang like an angel. When you spoke to her, you could tell from those honey-sweet vowels that she was a daughter of Georgia. But her music career was not to be. Last week, Hannah Ingram lost her life in an automobile accident. This week at Hannah’s school her fellow classmates decided to honor her by decorating their cars and trucks with Confederate flags. This was an appropriate and natural thing for her friends to do in view of the fact that the entire Ingram family is well known for their pro-Dixie stand.
Apparently, Cedartown High School Principal John Toland did not agree. Mr. Toland made an announcement over the school intercom that if the flags were not removed from the vehicles they would be towed away and impounded. The following day students at Cedartown High responded by returning to school with flags in the back glasses of their automobiles with the words "In Loving memory of Hannah" written on the glass below. This past Friday, Principal Toland expelled twenty students for either having flags in or on their vehicles and others for wearing Dixie Outfitters T-shirts.
Final exams are next week and now these kids are not going to be allowed to take them.
But I do not intend this to be a sad message. This is joyful news. Our children know what this battle is all about, and they are willing to fight this battle. So let me close with this: God bless our ancestors, God bless these young people, and God bless the South.