This is a perplexing question, as it relates to the WBTS. In some ways, yes. In others, no. I, like many of you, recently (and for the 3rd or 4th time), watched Ken Burns' PBS documentary, The Civil War. Even though I have several criticisms of the Burns' film, I still find it a fascinating piece of work and very educational. I've always thoroughly enjoyed watching the film, despite its shortcomings. One of the more moving parts of this film comes near the end, as shown below. Pay close attention at about 30 seconds in and listen as historian David McCullough narrates the moving "reenactment" of Pickett's charge at the 50th anniversary reunion at Gettysburg. I believe one can detect the emotion in McCullough's voice as it sounds like he almost chokes up in recounting the emotional event. I don't think he's acting. I don't mind admitting that I too was moved with emotion in hearing McCullough recount the story.
As two readers recently commented on their ancestors' presence at the charge, and their desire to honor their bravery, I thought it would be appropriate to post this clip of the Burns film. The reaction of the Union soldiers, seeing those men come across that open field, is quite moving and is a vivid reminder and confirmation that the often maligned "reconciliation perspective" of the WBTS is real and historically accurate. I thought it would also be appropriate in framing the question I raise in the title of this post.
Also note in the film clip, the 1938 news piece on the 75th reunion at Gettysburg. At about 5:50 into the film, the words, "the wounds have healed" appear in a paragraph on the screen. But have they? The regions are still divided politically - and over similar issues. As Professor David Blight has noted:
Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away? Is it because we are irresistibly fascinated by catastrophic loss? Or is it something else? Is it because the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history? (Emphasis mine)
Many Southerners still feel (rightfully so) that their heritage and ancestry is fair game for insulting, defaming, poking fun at, and unfairly criticizing for a situation that both North and South had a hand in creating. The battle and debate continues (on blogs, forums, and in print) over perspectives and causes. Certain bloggers love to poke fun at what they refer to as "Moonlight & Magnolias" (how clever) art by such renowned and respected artists as Mort Kunstler. Those types of posts typically go like this: Post an image of a piece of art that portrays the "M&M" perspective, then sit back and watch readers post juvenile comments poking fun at not only the artist, but those who buy such pieces. (And, by the way, those who are major funders of Civil War publications). A few days later, up comes a post about how "divisive" the Confederate heritage crowd is. Uh-huh.
Academics (and others) further accuse the Confederate heritage folks of dividing and pitting certain views against others all the while claiming their own "neutrality" and then at the same time declaring "victory" in the narrative war. How does one claim "victory" while at the same time denying there's any real divide and claiming "neutrality?" Am I missing something?
So I ask, have we reconciled? And can we even have the discussion without providing evidence that we haven't?