A few days before Memorial Day in 2002, a Sons of Confederate Veterans camp received an email from a lady who apparently had been receiving the camp’s newsletters. Her letter was courteous, expressing her puzzlement and dismay at the tone of the SCV’s material and voicing her hope that Southerners could set aside their resentments, be good sports and “live in peace in this great country.” Her post was eventually forwarded to Roger McCredie, who had not yet joined the staff of the SLRC, but was the SCV’s immediate past Chief of Heritage Defense, and McCredie answered on his own initiative. His answer is even more relevant now, over a decade later, as the runaway train of political correctness threatens to overrun Confederate history and heritage. Here is McCredie’s reply:
Dear Ms. Kinley-Ruth:
You appear to be a genuinely decent and thoughtful person, and your post is doubtless well intentioned. One of your remarks deserves to be addressed in some detail. You say, “I never know whether you folks are really talking like this because it keeps the fervor going for your re-enactments or because you are still so angry, after all these years.” Because you do seem to be an empathetic person, let me try a little role-reversal on you.
Suppose that you had been born and raised in a place whose history, culture, traditions, mindsets, and values set it as much apart from the rest of the “United States” as Switzerland is from France, or Ireland from England. Suppose you loved this place, its people and your own place in it very deeply; suppose, in fact, that you were so much a part of it that it was hard to tell where you stopped and it started.
Suppose this place you cherished had once found itself at odds with other members of the Union it had helped found; had attempted peaceably and in good faith to leave that Union, in accordance with the provisions of that Union’s very own constitution; and had instead been invaded and obliged to fight a horrific war against overwhelming odds, during which its cities were looted and destroyed, its countryside ravaged, and its civilian population robbed and brutalized. Suppose that having lost that war, your homeland was further crippled by a dozen years of corrupt and vindictive military occupation called, with supreme irony, “Reconstruction.”
Suppose that this place you love subsequently became the repository for all of America’s frustrations, the object of its ridicule and cynical exploitation, and the whipping boy for its national racial guilt trip. Suppose you had to listen to the daily litany of how your homeland was a dark and backward place populated by incestuous mongoloids. Suppose you were ridiculed for your accent, and for your unabashed love of God, place, and family.
Suppose you found your history turned inside out and your heroes vilified in order to appease the professionally offended. Suppose your children were expelled from school, ostracized and even beaten for displaying the symbol their great-great-grandfathers fought under. Suppose that some municipalities where your brave dead were buried, far from home, refused to allow their graves to be decorated, even for a few hours, with the flag they died for. And suppose that when, as an American, you objected to this very un-American treatment, you were told to sit down and shut up, or be branded a racist, a white supremacist, or even un-American yourself.
That’s a great deal of supposing, I know, but try to manage it, if only for a second. Now consider your original remark in light of it. Our experience as Americans has been painfully different from yours in some respects. On the day known as Memorial Day, this difference is particularly poignant for us, when our Confederate dead are systematically excluded from national mourning. We have – or try to have – our own Confederate Memorial Days, state by state, but often these are given no official sanction. And you ask if we are angry.
Suppose you were us.
~ Roger McCredie ~ Past Chief of Heritage Defense ~ Sons of Confederate Veterans ~