I would like to once again ask for your help and input. This goes out primarily to those who live in the former CSA...
What is it like? Really?
What is it like what is is like to have met, been defeated by, and then to have been razed by a relentless, materially superior enemy that is interested only in obtaining the submission of its foes?
What is it like to be "part of the good 'ole US of A, when you know that the "U" was obtained only after your kinsmen and ancestors were murdered to make it so? After the US government applied "scorched earth" to your lands in a manner that would've made any despoiler throughout history proud?
What is it like to be demonized and villified in the way that you have been by the US government?
I cannot imagine.
I say I'm a Southerner in spirit, but I'm not presumptuous enough to pretend I can really understand the way you do. I'm sure many from the former CSA don't give it a second thought. I know for a fact that many do.
I don't care much for the official version. Help me learn your story, if you would.
Well first, a recap of my background.
I was born in Dixie, grew up in the mountain south, and at least from a heritage standpoint self-identify as Southern Appalachian. My father, while never a reenactor or professional historian, was a Civil War nut as a boy and we all got a lot of stories growing up. I remember on my high school exam writing out the lyrics to both the CSA and USA versions of "Battle Cry of Freedom" on the back, burned into my memory from the Johnny Horton tapes he often played in the car.
The past was always pretty close you might say.
So that's that.
Second, let's get the obvious off the table.
Among the dead, there are plenty of Cherokee moms and African dads with their own bones to pick from the other side of the table. I'll not deny them their dignity by saying they weren't done wrong. They were. So were the people their ancestors whooped on in their time. Plenty of evil in this ol' world to go around.
So those we hurt have their stories, but I don't think they're mine to tell. So I'll leave those tales with those to a right to them, and speak to what I've been given.
What's it like growing up Southern a century and change after the Late Unpleasantness?
First, the brutal part of it. When and where I grew up, the following sentiment a previous poster left was not uncommon, though I don't think I'd go so far as to say it really haunted daily life for most people. -
And here's what's sadly ironic.
My ancestors, the poor whites of the mountain South, mostly favored the Union and fought for the Union during The Civil War in large numbers.
There was no reason for my ancestors to fight and die to preserve an aristocratic class of landed gentry that kept my people poor by using slaves instead of hiring employees.
Hell, some of my ancestors freakin' created West Virginia when they seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the Union.
But you arrogant, ignorant Damn Yankees are so damn arrogant and ignorant and smugly superior that not many groups of Southerners hate you all more than those of us in the mountain South, whose ancestors probably favored the Union back then.
150 years of oppression and hate and derision aimed at us will cause that, you know?
I'd be lying if I didn't say my uncensored gut reaction on a bad day isn't fair similar, even if I try to be all polite and remember that whole "do unto others" thing.
There's folk from north of the Mason-Dixon I truly like to no end, but to my mind, "Yankee" still carries the connotation of "smug bastard just aching to beat you to death with the beam in his eye for the sake of his perfect world, then count himself righteous for doing it."
I don't like the sight of Yankee blue.
It is for the dead to bury the dead.
There is not a Yankee alive that killed a kinsman of mine, or burned a Southern farm, or starved out a Southern family. It is finished, it is done, and all have gone to their rest.
So yeah, I might still keep a momento or two about the house. I'll definitely smile and wave at the proud old gentleman riding by in gray and gold, and seeing an underfed teenage kid in butternut clutching an old Enfield just about melts my heart. Heck, I'll even sing "Good ol' Rebel" now and again, bitter and dire as it is.
The history of my old homeland is important to me because it's a part of me - it's one little thread of that great tapestry, that piece that l was entrusted with. And it's a pretty rich one to have. I like it. I treasure it.
But if I'm not allowed to bear a grudge against the living, I sure ain't gonna bear one against the dead. There's more than enough hatred in this world I don't need to be adding to it for the sake of wrongs done a century before I was born.
... well, at least till round two. ;)