Today the wife and I made a last-minute decision to drive to Fredericksburg for a few hours. We have a set routine whenever we go. It typically includes a battlefield stop, the local Borders Books, lunch at Sammy T's, and a stroll through the old towne. We stopped at the new strip of land bought by the CWPT that focuses on the first days fighting at Chancellorsville. [Take a look at this interactive map that chronicles the fighting in this particular area.] I wanted to check it out as preparation for a tour that I will organize for my Civil War class. The site is well interpreted and makes for an ideal first stop rather than driving further to the Zoan Church located on the edge of the shopping malls, which are edging further west along Rt. 3. Our other battlefield stop included a few sites along Lee Drive in Fredericksburg. We walked up Lee Hill to his command position and talked about what he might have meant when he said: "It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it." I still don't really know what he was getting at.
As we drove by the Fredericksburg battlefield visitor center I decided to check out a little Civil War shop across the street. I thought we would find a bunch of goofy souvenirs, but it turned out to include an impressive collection of artifacts. However, when we walked into the rear room we were shocked to find a collection of German SS soldiers in a glass case. My wife being from Germany was absolutely appalled to find such a collection on display, especially in Waffen SS uniform carrying flags with swastikas. We left immediately. This is not the first time that I've come across such items in a store that claims to offer Civil War items. I have to wonder whether others have noticed the same thing, but more importantly, I am curious as to the connection.
Please don't tell me that it is simply a matter of being attracted to the uniforms or that I ought to distinguish between the soldier and the cause. Anyway you slice it, there is something really disturbing about this.