As we begin the new school year I strongly encourage school administrators to think carefully about who they bring in from the outside to educate their students. Case in point. This past May the Major George B. Erath 2679, United Daughters of the Confederacy, presented a program to Dublin 8th graders about Texas in “The War Between the States.” They actually ask the kids to sing “Dixie” at the end of the presentation. Our kids deserve better. On the other hand I appreciate the fact that this school is reaching out to its senior citizen community. All the research shows that it is crucial that regular physical and mental activity is essential to maintaining one’s overall health as we get older.
I’ve suggested before that how Americans remember their Civil War can no longer be so easily drawn along strict regional boundaries. Consider the video below. On May 15th, 2011, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Archibald Gracie Camp and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as other members of New York City’s Southern Community gathered at The French Church in Manhattan for a Memorial Service honoring the Confederate Dead, 150 years after the Civil War. Dr. Michael S. Kogan delivered this sermon on the causes of the War and the legacy of the Southern Soldier.
Here is a short video of this year’s Memorial Day ceremony at our local Confederate cemetery on the campus of the University of Virginia. It’s a few blocks from my school and I bring students to the site every year. There are over 1,000 soldiers buried here, who died in the Charlottesville hospitals during the war. Up until a few years ago there were only a few headstones. The local chapter of the SCV plans to place a headstone for every soldier. By the looks of things in this video and a recent visit that I made with one of my classes it looks like they are making steady progress.
The video include a short interview with Kimberly Mauch, president of the Turner Ashby chapter, No. 184, United Daughters of the Confederacy of Winchester Virginia. I find her level of understanding of the war and slavery to be appalling. A transcript of the Q&A follows the video.
AS A YANKEE- WE GENERALLY ASSOCIATE THE CONFEDERACY WITH SLAVERY. IT’S HARD TO OVERCOME THAT. “I understand that. Yes, slavery was a very hot topic back then you could say, even twenty years prior to that, even, especially in the Kansas-Missouri border states, the abolitionists and all that went on out there. It was fought more- states’ rights started everything, I feel. The South wanted to do things their way and the North wanted to control that and that’s what fueled the fire for South Carolina to secede from the Union to begin with. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING IN THE UNION TODAY? “I love it.” THINGS WORKED OUT FOR THE BEST? “Who knows what it would be like? Nobody can say it would be better or worse but it’s still a great country.”
Today I received a letter for an essay contest sponsored by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy here in Charlottesville. I have to say that I got a kick out of it. The contest offers students in three different grade levels the opportunity to compete for a prize of $50. Students in grades 4-6 must write a 1,000 word essay on Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury; students in grades 7-9 will write about the life of Judah P. Benjamin; and high school students in grades 10-12 get to explore the important contributions of Stand Waite. Your guess is as good as mine as to why Stand Waite was chosen.
The guidelines are quite telling. My favorite is the following:
Use “War Between the States” rather than “Civil War” unless quoting directly from a source.
The UDC also offers the following observation concerning sources:
The internet plays such an important role in education today that books are no longer being used. Please encourage students to use at least one book as a source for their information.
Guess what ladies, you can actually find books on this thing called the internet.
[Image: Mrs. Homer S. (Jane) Durden III, President General, 2008–2010]