I rarely go to movies anymore for the obvious reason that there is little worth seeing these days. However, Facebook seems to understand my tastes and has recently inserted into my feed ads for a movie called The Lost King. The movie is about Philippa Langley’s passionate effort to find the remains of King Richard III and to determine his true character. I couldn’t help feeling a kinship to Philippa, an amateur historian, and her quest to present true history. My daughter and I laughed at the similarities we observed in people like us who are one step away from obsessed. As the movie progressed though, I found myself in tears as I compared it to the efforts of new friends who are and have been for a century and a half in a desperate struggle to correct the lies about the South, even as backhoes head toward Arlington.
I am not an expert on any historical topic and do not have an advanced degree, but my insatiable appetite for Southern history and literature these past few years has alerted me to the dire circumstances in which we Americans find ourselves; circumstances that resemble the historical errors surrounding the last Plantagenet king. English ladies seem capable of uncovering five-hundred year old lies about this king, while Americans are vigilantly propping up lies about the inhabitants of half their country. The Island’s centuries-old Tudor propagandists are today’s Lincolnian myth-makers, and if we do not do a better job at insisting on truthful history, it may be left to future generations to do the almost impossible work of piecing together the true story from fragments. The monuments have come down. The books are still publishing lies. The flags are forbidden in many places. What will be left behind to tell the truth if we do not preserve it now?
I applaud the work of Clyde Wilson, Don Livingston, Brion McClanahan, Thomas DiLorenzo, Boyd Cathey, Andrew Holowchak, and others. They are the tireless, credentialed experts that have been leading the way for decades despite being slighted by mainstream academia, but when do the rest of us take up the gauntlet and how? I am grateful for Monuments Across Dixie, The Virginia Flaggers, and the SCV camps, but it seems that we are all still shouting into the void. The Abbeville archives are full of calls to action, but it never seems to happen on a grand scale. I am living proof that the truth does get out, albeit one person at a time, but will this be enough?
The Confederate battle flag hangs proudly in my home, and the faces of Lee, Jackson, Forrest, Cleburne, and their compatriots are familiar where before they were unknown. Great. I have succeeded in liberating my family from the curse of historical ignorance. There are now six people that understand the War for Southern Independence, real federalism, and the atheistic Marxism that is undermining Christian civilization. Excuse me, eight people (I have also converted my parents). How do I extend this influence when my own social circle is relatively small, my financial resources limited, and the letters behind my name absent?
This is where the example of Philippa Langley, an obscure amateur, becomes so inspiring. She persisted in doing what she felt led to do. I don’t know what her personal worldview is, but mine affirms that God reigns in the affairs of men, that all truth belongs to Him and that we are guaranteed His assistance when we attempt to establish it. In vindicating the dead, we are humbly seeking to tell the truth about our ancestors, not to sanctify them, as the movie points out, but to prove their humanity and thereby glorify the God who made and redeemed them. We can expect to be guided in our efforts even if they differ from those who may have a more visible presence or a larger audience. The victories may not look like what we want, but they will be God’s if we attempt them in the right spirit.
Several years ago I went looking for my lost great-grandfather. I was immersed in family history and thought it strange that a relation so close in age to my own father had no known death date or burial location. No other family member had been able to find a lead, which might have been understandable had we been looking for someone in the 1800’s who died on a battlefield or along the Oregon Trail, but my great-grandfather would have died somewhere between 1940-1970 where laws and records were plentiful. As I pursued my research, the most miraculous journey ensued and I ended up finding him in an unmarked grave in a rural cemetery only thirty miles from where I currently live.
The movie The Lost King portrays King Richard III as if in the flesh, accompanying Philippa through her efforts and I have to say that my journey was like that. Once I found a picture of my great-grandfather, I felt like he kept me company and I constantly felt nudged in the right direction until all the pieces of the story fell into place. My father assisted me in the research and together we uncovered the truth. Was everything we found inspiring and noble? No, but it was true and that was the important thing. It gave us back a family member that wanted to be found and wanted to be acknowledged as redeemed. We were all more whole for the experience.
My father paid for the headstones, not only for his grandfather, but also for his grandfather’s beloved wife and infant whom we later found in unmarked graves in Pueblo, Colorado. Like Richard III, now properly entombed in Leicester, the truth about my family is written in stone and more importantly, the people are in our hearts.
We have a heritage worth preserving and I can attest that heaven is invested in the honor we desire to give to those who came before us and ultimately to God. Our approaches will be unique, individual, and eventually triumphant as we allow God to guide us to our appointed roles. King Richard III’s motto was “Loyaulté me lie”, which means “Loyalty binds me”. Loyalty to God, family, and freedom is our legacy as Southerners and will give us the conviction to persevere in discovering and telling the truth. My dear friends, press on.