Monday, November 18, 2013
The Attacks Continue
By Bob Hurst
I believe that there has been more misinformation promulgated about the Confederacy than any other subject in this nation’s history. Many of these untruths originated during the War of 1861-1865 and were used as propaganda by northern newspapers in an attempt to demonize the South and many individual Southern heroes.
Unfortunately, many of these untruths have survived right into the current period in which we find ourselves. Much of this is because of the fact that "the victor writes the history" and, unfortunately, the North emerged victorious in the great conflict.
While there are millions of us in the South (and even some in the North) who honor and revere our Southern history, heritage and culture, there are many detractors (often northern transplants, which I find ironically humorous) who just don’t seem to ever tire in their attempts to denigrate our people, our speech, our religious ways, our attitudes toward life and, especially, our history.
These attacks on us have been occurring for decades but seem to be increasing in recent years as the "progressives" have come to the fore in the politics of this country. I have noticed what seems to be a sharp increase in the volume of negative actions taken toward our history and, especially, our Confederate history. The latest example occurred just last night (I am writing this on November 15) in Crestview, a nice Florida city in the western part of the Panhandle not far from Pensacola.
First, some background on the situation. In 1957 an elderly gentleman named William Lundy passed away (or "passed over the river" as good Confederates say). Mr. Lundy, affectionately known as "Uncle Bill”, was reportedly 109 years old and was acknowledged as the last Confederate veteran in Florida.
A few years later a civic club in Crestview was instrumental in the creation of a small park on Highway 85 at East 1st Avenue which was dedicated as "Confederate Park". It is a nice small park with two attractive decorative benches and a headstone-sized monument with a plaque acknowledging Uncle Bill Lundy as the last Florida Confederate veteran. In 1958 a Confederate Battle Flag atop an approximately 20-foot flagpole was added to the park.
The park and flag remained without controversy until 1996 when the NAACP, under an activist local president, began protesting the CBF. The NAACP was unsuccessful in its attempts to have the CBF removed just as the organization was unsuccessful in an attempt to have the CBF removed from the lawn of the Walton County Courthouse in nearby Defuniak Springs where it flies atop a tall pole near the oldest Confederate monument in the state.
Subsequent attempts in Crestview to have the flag removed have also been unsuccessful and this leads us to last night.
The NAACP has recently launched another effort to have the CBF removed from the park. The issue had become so heated that the City Council scheduled a special meeting to discuss only this single issue and to get input on the matter from the general public.
This resulted in the meeting last night and the crowd was large. The Sons of Confederate Veterans had about 15 people in attendance coming from as far as Pensacola to the west and Tallahassee to the east. There were also about 50 local citizens who were seated on our side of the room and about 40 individuals on the NAACP side. These figures are just my estimates and the crowd well could have been larger. The SCV and the NAACP were the only groups recognized by the council to offer statements. After the two groups had completed their presentations the floor was open for individuals to offer comments – and did they. It seemed that almost everyone in attendance had something to say about the situation.
I have to say that I was impressed with the council members and other city representatives present who sat for more than two hours listening to the many statements made by those wishing to speak. I was also a bit irritated by the pejorative nature and inaccurate content of many of the presentations from the NAACP group.
When the chairperson called an end to the discussion and asked the council members if there was a motion to remove the flag from Confederate Park, not a single council member responded – not even the black member of the council who will likely catch some flack from the people of the NAACP. So, the good guys won this round but I have no doubt that this same issue will again raise its ugly head some time in the future.
Also of interest is that this incident in Crestview comes on the heels of another attack by the NAACP on another iconic Southern/Confederate symbol. That event occurred over several weeks and involved an attempt by the NAACP to have the portrait of Robert E. Lee removed from the county commission chamber in the Lee County Courthouse in Ft. Myers, Florida. In case you don’t know, Lee County is named for General Robert E. Lee and his portrait has hung in that location for 84 years. The SCV in that area of southwest Florida and many supporters were very active in defense of the portrait remaining as is and the Lee County Commission would have none of this nonsense about removing the portrait so the visage of this great man remains where it has been proudly displayed for more than eight decades.
By the way, during this month-long episode in Lee County, there was even a suggestion made by some on the other side to rename the county. If this is a game that everyone can play then I would suggest we change the name on the almost 1000 streets in this country that bear the moniker of a certain individual who was a proven plagiarizer, exposed womanizer and known Communist sympathizer. I won’t even mention the name but I think you know to whom I am referring. (Hint: his FBI files are sealed by judicial order until 2027.)
Although the good guys were successful in Crestview and Ft. Myers, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Just this past month the school board of Jacksonville/Duval voted to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. While I hate to see the name of any Confederate hero removed from any public building, I have mixed emotions about this situation.
I have three art prints of General Forrest on walls of my house. My Confederate uniform is patterned after one he wore. I have at least four other Forrest art prints that are unframed and in a storage case because there is no more wall space available. As you might surmise, I truly admire the man. I’m not sure, though, if having his name attached to this high school in Jacksonville is truly honoring General Forrest. While years ago Forrest High was a fine school, in recent years it has become a typical urban school beset with all the problems that implies. In fact, in recent years the state has frequently rated Forrest HS as a D or F school. As I see it, this is not a proper school to bear such an exalted name. Just my opinion, you understand, and many of my SCV compatriots disagree with me.
These attacks on Southern icons have all occurred in Florida and just in the last few months. I haven’t even touched on so many other similar situations in other states such as changing the historic names of parks, removing statues, changing the names of college buildings, and the list goes on. Political correctness really stinks!
I have found through my involvement in a number of challenges against our Confederate ancestry that the best way to refute the inaccurate rantings of the Southern-haters is with facts, so I would like to conclude this article with some facts that you, as a good Southerner, can use to rebut some of the attacks on our ancestors.
It always gets my dander up when some semi-educated type tries to characterize Confederates as "traitors". Traitors? Really? Then how could the following have happened?
— At the beginning of the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley appointed four former Confederate generals and one former Confederate colonel to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. The generals were Fitzhugh Lee (R.E. Lee’s nephew), Tom Rosser, Matthew C. Butler and Joe Wheeler. The colonel was William Oates. Lee had been governor of Virginia and Oates, governor of Alabama. It is hard to imagine that a U.S. president would appoint "traitors" to the rank of general in the U.S. Army.
— It is also hard to imagine that the U.S. Military would sanction the naming of major U.S. military installations for "traitors" so how do the South-haters explain that the following major U.S. forts are named for Confederates?
Fort Hood (General John Bell Hood), Fort Polk (General Leonidas Polk), Fort Benning (General Henry Benning),
Fort Gordon (General John B. Gordon), Fort Bragg (General Braxton Bragg), Fort Lee (General Robert E. Lee),
Fort A.P. Hill (General A.P. Hill), Fort Rucker (Colonel Edmund Rucker).
— If all Confederates were traitors then why did President Dwight Eisenhower keep a portrait of General Robert E. Lee in his office (that would be the "Oval Office") during his presidency?
— If all Confederates were traitors then why did the U.S. Congress in 1958 enact P.L. 85-425 which recognizes Confederate veterans as American veterans entitled to all rights and privileges thereof.
Well, there is so much more but there is no more space. I hope this bit of information helps you to defend our Confederate ancestors against the nonsensical charge that they were traitors. I hope many of you will do some research into other issues concerning our Confederate ancestors. Oh, by the way, from a Southern viewpoint, the main reason the South fought was NOT to protect slavery. That was just another of the many northern prevarications about the South.
Just Remember, the South was Right! (Thank you, Donnie and Ron)