The opponents of Southern heritage often repeat the trope: “You lost, get over it.” One of them told me that it was “ironic” that we honor both the US and CS flags.
But of course, the postbellum states of the CSA were annexed into the reunited USA. They were forced back into the Union. Therefore, thirteen of the stars on today’s Old Glory represent Confederate states.
American history is incredibly inclusive as well as intricate.
And to this day, when there is a war to be fought, the South is always over-represented. And when Yankees retire or go on vacation, they usually go South rather than North. I don’t blame them.
There’s no actual irony in honoring the past. History is complicated. We embrace our ancestry and heritage. This is how normal people in the real world live. That’s why there are statues of the defeated Scottish rebel Sir William Wallace, not only in Scotland, but also in England (he is a UK hero today). That’s why there is a statue of the rebel General George Washington at Trafalgar Square in London. That’s why there are statues to the defeated Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani (and other pre-American royals) in Hawaii (and their state flag includes the symbol of the defeated mother country of the United States: Great Britain). The state flags of New Mexico and Oklahoma contain symbols of defeated native peoples (“You lost, get over it,” right?) – many of whom are veterans of the United States – even though their ancestors took up arms against the US.
Is that ‘ironic’ as well?
Another talking point about Confederate heritage is that they “took up arms against the United States!” As the kids say, “Well, duh!” In fact, some of the most honored American Indians fought against, and even slaughtered, a lot of American soldiers – including the famed veteran of the War for Southern Independence, (Brevet) Major General George Custer and 267 other members of the US 7th Cavalry, at the Battle of Little Bighorn, while wounding 55 more. They stripped, scalped, and dismembered the bodies of the American dead. And yet, these Indian warriors are also part of our common American heritage, honored on coins and stamps and in museums, and they hold a special place of honor among American Indians to this very day. And we, as a nation, erect statues and monuments in their honor. In 1993, Hollywood made a movie honoring the Indian warrior and combatant against the United States, Geronimo, as an “American Legend.”
Our modern USA is a complex tapestry of many heritages. And that includes our Confederate heritage.
And as for losing in battle, our fathers and uncles were defeated in Vietnam. There are many who believe the Vietnam War was not a good cause or an appropriate use of American military force. But of course, we honor these men as our countrymen, our relatives, and as part of the tapestry of American history and heritage. And we especially honor the fallen with a memorial wall in DC. The surviving veterans and family members of the dead – even those who believe the cause was less than righteous – reverently visit that memorial. What kind of person would tell the family members who honor these men, “You lost, get over it”?
Would they say that to visitors to Auschwitz? Would they say that to the descendants of slaves? Would they say that to a mother whose children were killed in the line of duty as first responders? Perhaps so.
Our country has not only lost its history and its heritage, it has lost its soul.