Primer: See the Washington Post article here.
I’m gonna tell you up front. I don’t live in VA. Hell, I don’t even live on the East Coast. But I’ve seen a lot in writing and on TV regarding Gov. Robert McDonnell (who I am a fan of) declaring April “Confederate History Month” in VA. as many governors before him have. And I have three words about it:
Big. Fukking. Deal…
Let’s get right down to brass tacks about this. Gov. McDonnell’s proclamation is meant to show historical respect to brave men who fought for what they thought to be right in a dark period of our nations history. He is embracing the heritage of the state, and in the process setting a stage for an increased interest in Virginia’s rich cultural heritage and a great destination for visitors.
Good for him.
There is nothing in this proclamation about slavery. There shouldn’t be. Slavery is a dark, but real, part of this nations history – and while repugnant - still a legal state in the 1860s. This is NOT about slavery. And it should be noted that slavery is only a portion of what led to the Civil War. We are remiss in not remembering that states rights and intrusive Federal government were larger reasons for the Civil War. Not so dissimilar to today, oh by the way…
Bear with me for a moment as I post the eight paragraphs of Gov. McDonnell’s proclamation:
WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and
WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present; and
WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and
WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “…all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace.”; and
WHEREAS, this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
This is not about slavery. It is not about the denigration of black people. It is about Heritage. Sacrifice. Patriotism. It is a call to remind ourselves of how issues that divide us should – and should not – be handled. About how a people, feeling disenfranchised by their Federal Government chose a very hard path to fight for what they believed in. It’s about remembering how hurt can be healed by the right person, doing the right thing, at the right time.
And to those who wish to make this an issue about black vs. white: Fukk off. It’s not about that, I know it – and so do you. You are just too narrow minded to admit it.
So, embrace your history Virgina. Learn from it. Apply it to some of the very issues we face today. The term “Virginian” used to bestow pride and honor amongst those who wore the moniker. DO NOT be afraid to feel that way today.
-LTB (Of the West Coast)