Monday, July 21, 2008

News from the SCV reunion

I've been a long-time member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), an honorable genealogical, patriotic, and benevolent military society of male descendants of veterans of the War for Southern Independence of 1861-1865. The SCV was founded in 1896 as the successor of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).

Often, we are cast using the crassest anti-Southern stereotypes - usually for political gain or to be exploited by some professional activist who needs a boogeyman. The stereotypes are well known: we are backward, uneducated, racist, and violent. The reality is quite different. I really miss not being able to attend SCV events as I was in the past. SCV members are overwhelmingly intelligent, genteel, educated, Christian family folks who have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of their own family histories and the histories of both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.

On a personal note, the Pennsylvania Division of the SCV (which did not even exist yet when I served as the commander of Philadelphia's J.E.B. Stuart Camp #1506) mourns the loss of its first Division Commander, John Care. John was a Christian gentleman and an advocate of the dignity of the graves of Confederate soldiers buried across the Keystone State. John's family remains in my prayers, and I wish them comfort in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Though our organization is overwhelmingly white, we have several prominent black members who are equally proud of their ancestors' contributions to the Southern independence movement and war effort to resist Northern invasion, just as their white compatriots are. In the same way as in the first war of American independence, blacks, both free and slave, fought gallantly for their nascent country - even as brave black soldiers, sailors, and airmen fought for the United States in World War II - in spite of living in segregation and second-class citizenship. Love of home and country and the desire to protect one's family from invasion is a universal virtue.

The SCV has been on the educational cutting edge now for some twenty years to dispel the myths and falsehoods of those who would malign our heroic ancestors - especially in their motives for fighting. The SCV has also been a leading advocate for the largely forgotten black Confederate soldiers, whose heroic deeds have been celebrated by Southerners all along - though their very existence is a thorn in the side of agenda-driven politically-correct historians and the race hustling industry. But as long as the SCV exists, their heroic deeds will be remembered with equal affection and admiration as all veterans who gave their lives for God, country, hearth, home, and resistance to tyranny.

This year's annual SCV reunion was held in Concord, NC - and featured a moving tribute to a heroic black Confederate veteran from the area that involved many of his proud descendants.

You will not hear about any of this from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Spike Lee; nor from Barack Obama or Condoleeza Rice. It won't be covered in any haunting PBS or HBO documentary. Nor will you find it in any mainstream Hollywood movie, national magazine, or typical history classroom - and what a pity!

But the good news is that you can check out the video or read the newspaper article.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

"War for Southern Independence"???

Around here, it's the "War of Northern Aggression".

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Around here its the Civil War! Geez, get over it people! ;)
(BTW, we have a life-size cut-out of the Blessed Abraham Lincoln, may the North ever prevail against her foes!!)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Anastasia:

I think my favorite name for the "late unpleasantness" comes from Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies: "The War Between the Americans and the Yankees." :-)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jim:

The only problem is the War wasn't so much a North-South issue as a Federal-State issue - and when the Federal government triumphed, all the states lost (big government didn't just fall out of the sky).

But your "get over it" comment reflects an amusing difference between Northerners and Southerners (this has always fascinated me). Northerners (as a rule) see history as either an academic interest or a hobby. Southerners tend to take it far more personally.

Sociologically, Northerners want to know "what do you do" when you meet them. Southerners are often more interested in "who are your people." I think some of it comes from the cultural difference between the people who settled in the North vs. the South.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, we would often visit Gettysburg. The massive Union monuments were never (and I mean never) adorned with wreaths or flowers. The humble monuments to Southern units who fought there (as well as Confederate generals who were honored) were always marked with fresh-cut flowers, small Confederate flags, and wreaths. Always.

Northerners roll their eyes at the Southerners who take history personally, and Southerners think Northerners are crass and ignorant of their own heritage.

As for me, my grandfather was a POW in Germany for six months. His brother was in the Normandy Invasion, was wounded, and fought to utter exhaustion. The former ate roaches to stay alive. The latter was awarded a silver star that he didn't even know about until the 1980s. They're both dead now, and WW2 is "ancient history" to some. But their valor is part of my heritage.

Similarly, I had two ancestors who were POWs during the War Between the States. They were brothers, and both fought gallantly in every major battle with the Army of Northern Virginia. They were captured in 1864. One of my uncles, a strapping 25-year old hardened veteran, died within two months at Point Lookout prison - of pneumonia. He died of pneumonia, literally yards away from a world class hospital - while he had no shelter and a lack of decent food and water. The men at Point Lookout were deliberately starved out.

His brother was sent off to Elmira in upstate New York, a camp with a higher death rate than Andersonville. He survived more than a year, was paroled, went home, and lived into his 80s.

To most Northerners, this is interesting trivia at best. But other Southerners understand why this is important to me, and to others whose ancestors suffered these deprivations.

A few years ago, I camped out at Point Lookout at the site of the mass grave where my ancestors bones were tossed and covered with quicklime - along with between 4,000 and 8,000 of his compatriots (the Federal government lowballed the figures). His name doesn't appear on the monument. But because the descendants of these men still care after all these years, a new monument is being erected with the names of hundreds of veterans (my uncle included) who were omitted.

Also, the Point Lookout POW descendants raised $50,000, purchased some of the property, erected flag poles, and will soon have a statue erected along with the memorial plaque of names that were left off.

We're not going to "get over it," and y'all need to "get over" the fact that we won't. ;-)

Fr Watson SSP said...

Fr. Roemke,
Blessed Greetings. A word of caution: be sure not to let any of your parishioners into your home/parsonage--it may disconcert them (via the 'cut out') Because other than Judas (the Son of Perdition) the only other person we are sure is burning in hell is that War Criminal 'dishonest Abe.' The 'cut out' might send the wrong catechetical message.
Fr JW Watson SSP
The Kansas Kopperhead

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Fr. Beane,
I appreciate your deep sense of history and love for your people. I feel ashamed that I wrote so flippantly. Please forgive my smugness.
It is true, the Civil War is taught about, understood and responded to completely different in the North. Perhaps an important look at what self-justification can do. We Northerners just take it as gospel that the Civil War was ONLY about slavery. Therefore, in our minds and classrooms, anyone who supports the Civil War is pro-slaveryand that makes it pretty easy to justify our smugness toward southerners.
My dar Father Watson, while it is certainly a possibility that Pres. Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, is roasting in the fires of hell (only God can judge the heart), it is most certainly not for his righteous regaining of control of this great nation of ours!! ;)
(BTW, thank God for emoticons or we would all have to be taken far too dreadfully seriously on blogs :))