Tomorrow the local UDC and SCV chapters in Charleston, South Carolina will commemorate Confederate Memorial Day in Magnolia Cemetery. It’s a beautiful place that both evokes the scale of death that Confederates experienced and the lengths to which white Southerners went to honor their sacrifice during the postwar years.
As the debate continues surrounding the public display of Confederate iconography across the South, it is becoming more and more difficult to openly celebrate the Lost Cause. Here I am drawing a distinction between those who care little more than whether a local bakery agrees to accept an order for a Confederate battle flag cake and those who have a deeper attachment to Confederate heritage/history.
Regardless of whether you agree with the Confederate heritage crowd’s preferred narrative of the war, I am assuming that most of you don’t have a problem with a celebration of this sort taking place at a cemetery. I also assume that for most of you the display of the Confederate battle flag is not a problem in such a setting. In my view, it is an appropriate event to hold in a Confederate military cemetery. The tradition has a history all its own with significant meaning for those who choose to join.
The room to openly celebrate Confederate heritage in public spaces is all but over. This universe is shrinking at an exponential rate. Many in the Confederate heritage community will likely continue to flail about, but it is in their interest to acknowledge these shifting winds and confine their activities to places and times that allow them to peacefully gather and remember.