The Museum of the Confederacy
I wish I could say that I am surprised by the recent information concerning the Museum of the Confederacy merging with two other museums, but as someone who held membership in that museum for many years (before quitting in disgust 3 years ago) and who argued incessantly with Director Waite Rawls, and, who is quite familiar with his sneakiness, I have to say that nothing would surprise me. I am not privy to the reasons for the proposed merger. At this time the information is not fact but a rumor (although the source seems to be a good one). If the rumor is true, and if I had to guess, I’d guess that there’s something in it for Rawls…..if not money, then some sort of position or prestige. People like him don’t do something unless they stand to benefit from it.
In my long affiliation with Southern heritage defense, one thing has appalled me. No, it’s not Yankees….I’m a northerner and I grew up with Yankees. I know them like I know the back of my hand. They are what they are and the day they change is the day pigs sprout wings and fly. What appalls me is the number of Southerners, like Rawls and the Museum board, who like to play the part of the good little reconstructed Southerner.
Someone once said that in America, the Southerner has 400 years of history behind him while everyone else has 100 years of existence. I’m from the “100 years of existence” group and I don’t mind telling you that sometimes I am jealous of what y’all have. As such, when I encounter the Waite Rawls’ of the world I am astounded, dismayed, appalled….. I cannot think of enough negatives adjectives to describe the nauseating feeling I get when I encounter these low-lifes. What I would give anything to have, they throw away.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written something on the MOC. A look back over SHNV issues of the last 10 or 11 years would reveal quite a number of posts on the subject written by me.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the following as an option either – as Southerners who value your history, you do have one option you can pursue.
When the museum was founded, its artifacts were donated by Southern families whose family members had been in the war. The hope of these families, I believe, was that their family members’ sacrifices would be memorialized. There has been much bally-hooing in recent years from museum staff, boasting that the museum is not a memorial but an educational tool. Wrong! The museum WAS meant to be a memorial by the original caretakers and by the families who donated items to it.
I have no doubt that some of you come from families who originally donated items to the Museum way back when. I remember seeing the uniform of a friend’s wife’s ancestor sitting in one of the display cases. If you are from one of those families, and if your forbearers donated items to the Museum, call up Mr. Rawls and tell him you want the items back. Tell him that your family members did not donate those items so that somewhere down the road, someone could make a mockery of them.
I don’t know if such a demand has any legal legs. Only an attorney could give you that information and I’m sure there are some attorneys among you. But I do know that it will give Mr. Rawls a pain in that fat head of his.
As I said, I envy what y’all have. And  I cannot fathom how some Southerners could simply walk away from it or not fight for it. Don’t let a museum which originally was designed to memorialize your ancestors be absorbed by the likes of Tredegar with its assortment of Harriet Tubman bobblehead dolls (in its gift shop) – at least, don’t let it happen without a fight.
Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Associate Member, SCV Camps 3000, 1506, 1961