Friday, November 11, 2016
Happy Veterans Day
Cave Hill National Cemetery was decked out in flags on a beautiful sunny day, marking Veterans Day. This cemetery has both Union and Confederate soldiers' graves. (Kentucky remained in the Union, but there were many Confederate sympathizers among the population and several large battles fought in the state. In fact, the historians' joke is that Kentucky did not secede until after the war was over.)
Interestingly, I have visited cemeteries in South Carolina where the graves are decorated with the more commonly known Confederate battle flag, alongside the American flag.
I do not subscribe to the "Lost Cause" narrative of the Civil War, in which the South was deemed pure and noble in its endeavor. I believe the war was fought to defend slavery, not to defend the magnificence of state's rights, and that most of the men who were conscripted into the Confederate army were pawns and victims of their leaders' greed and racism, just as were the slaves. The Civil War was a terrible act of treason, and perhaps the winning side should have been less forgiving. But our better angels prevailed -- thank you, Abraham Lincoln -- and we sent the losers back to their farms to get on with life.
Visiting war sites and cemeteries always brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart. So many times we have been forced to take up arms to defend our country. And now and then we are conned into taking up arms for no valid reason. In either case, people die. You might want to seek out a national cemetery today and drop by to pay your respects. The soldiers were told they were doing the right thing, and perhaps they were.