07 October 2011

Citadel Cadets Affirm American Exceptionalism



While the elites continue to sneer . . .

"I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the world," [Mitt] Romney said, with an audience of cadets sitting behind him. "Not exceptional, as the president has derisively said, in the way that the British think Great Britain is exceptional or the Greeks think Greece is exceptional. In Barack Obama’s profoundly mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States."
And . . . 

"I will not surrender America’s role in the world," he said. "This is very simple. If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today." The cadets applauded.

Of course they applauded. These cadets are among the most patriotic among us. And let's not forget, this is the Citadel - in the heart of the Old Confederacy. The Confederacy which, after the WBTS, supplied more soldiers,  *per capita based on percentage of population, for America's wars than any other region of the United States. Yet, the elites continue to mock and impugn the region's values and traditions - which includes American Exceptionalism.

*Thanks to Robert Moore for pointing out my error. See his remarks in the comments.

27 comments:

Robert Moore said...

Richard, As written, you are suggesting something that isn't entirely on the level when it comes to the Citadel. While, yes, the Citadel is located in what used to be part of the Confederacy, that is not to suggest, however, that the entire student body of the Citadel (or VMI, for that matter) is made up of Southerners, or that the student body is representative of the old South or the Confederacy. Likewise, I think you are projecting something that isn't backed with firm numbers regarding the South providing more soldiers, per capita, for America's wars than any other region of the US. I highly recommend you take a closer look, for example, at the numbers provided during the First World War. The numbers don't reflect what you suggest... at all.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Robert.

"the student body is representative of the old South or the Confederacy."

No, of course not. However, there is still some connection between the Citadel and the Old Confederacy - at least in spirit.

"I think you are projecting something that isn't backed with firm numbers regarding the South providing more soldiers, per capita"

Not from the studies and statistics I've read. I don't have that info at my fingertips, but I know I've read several pieces which make that very assertion. Do you have something which refutes that which you could send me? I'd be happy to reconsider and correct if I'm wrong.

Robert Moore said...

Check-out the stats for WW1 on my current post. The top four states alone (all Northern) top almost the entire contribution of numbers of people from the South. I'm sending out a request for help with numbers from the rest of the wars. I just have my doubts, and they are mostly centered on the fact that, ultimately, the population of the South is smaller than that of the North, over the years. In some sense, it may break-out because of rural vs. urban... but then, that isn't really a fair statement considering the mid-west farmers, etc. To be clear, my point, here, is not to slight Southerners (as I'm one... and was also in the military), and the significance of the contributions made by them, but rather, an exercise in fact-finding.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I'm brain dead. My mistake. "Per capita" was the wrong term to use. I actually meant by percentage of population.

Robert Moore said...

That might change things... but I'd be curious to see the source for that.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Yes, sorry about the confusion. As I noted, I do not have that at my fingertips but I do recall reading this numerous times from different sources. The numbers, assuming they are correct, would also support part of the reconciliation narrative/agreement, i.e. "Southerners will rejoin the Union, be patriotic, and send its sons to fight in its wars - just allow us to honor our heroes." Would you agree with that statement?

I also recall a very recent article which stated: (paraphrasing) "the future military leaders are increasingly coming from the Southern states." I'll post a follow up within a few days. Thanks again for the correction.

Robert Moore said...

"'Southerners will rejoin the Union, be patriotic, and send its sons to fight in its wars - just allow us to honor our heroes.' Would you agree with that statement?"

No, I wouldn't agree. Certainly, this wasn't any form of offer on the table from the Union, that I'm aware of, and I doubt, as a whole, that Southerners were thinking this way after the war... and that includes those who were firmly behind the Confederacy. I just can't imagine that folks said (or, necessarily believed) they would do the one set of things, in order to be able to honor Confederate heroes... as that would almost boil down to "offerings" in future wars in order to be able to recognize the dead in a past war. People want to honor their people, but I can't see the South, or anyone else, hanging that ability to do so on a condition.

Robert Moore said...

I'd have to also ask the question...
"are those military leaders who are increasingly coming from the Southern states, necessarily rooted in the same Southern states?"

We're a mobile culture, and many have made their homes in the South because of climate, cost of living, and a culture that is more agreeable (any of the above, and all of the above, depending on the person). All those who come from the South these days... may not necessarily be "from" the South.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Professor Clyde Wilson expressed it, quite well, this way:

"The "Lost Cause mythology" was but a part of an understanding reached by most Americans around the end of the 19th century. (I am aware this agreement excluded African-Americans, but that is another story. There was little North/South difference of opinion on that.) The understanding, which was deemed essential to the strength of the country, went something like this: The Civil War had been a terrible ordeal for Americans. But perhaps it had been the crucible necessary to create a new, strong nation out of the original Union. At any rate, most people on both sides were satisfied that in the end America was held together. Nearly all Southerners sincerely accepted this. They would ever after be staunch supporters of the United States, as they have proved many times over ever since in countless ways, including their persistent over-representation in the combat arms of the national forces. All they asked in return was an acknowledgment that, if they had been wrong in the pursuit of independence, they had not been dishonorable and that they had fought a good fight that could be appreciated as a part of the pride of all Americans. Until rather recently that little has been granted, but "America" is now in the process of reneging on its part of the bargain."~ Clyde Wilson Ph.D

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"a *culture* more agreeable" to what - their traditions, politics, way of life, etc? If so, then I think my point holds. Certainly we are more mobile, but there are still a healthy number of "homegrown" southerners.

The inability to understand this whole issue was expressed by David Blight's "Why Doesn't The Confederacy Just Fade Away" commentary, which I dissected in a previous post.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I know you like to write about the diversity of Southern views on various issues and I would not totally disagree with some of your points, but there remains, to this day, more homogeneity of the traditions to which I'm referring than any other region in the U.S. The evidence for that is empirical.

Robert Moore said...

The "culture more agreeable" part varies with the person, meaning different things to different people. Based on some that I know, there's a large range of reasons, and all do not necessarily intersect with politics and/or religion, though some might. I'd make the projection that less have to do with politics, but that's nothing more than a projection without supporting evidence. Surely there are stats out there, but the question is are they slanted to support one belief over another. There's too much of that sort of junk going on these days, from both sides, and it makes it hard to trust how much "wheat" is in such things, for all the "chaff".

Home-grown Southerners... yes, they are still here, and I'm one... as such, it is an indication that we don't all think alike... glory be for independent thought and originality in human nature. Only "lived" outside the South as a matter of military orders, and then, for only a period over a month, at the most.

Robert Moore said...

"more homogeneity of the traditions to which I'm referring than any other region in the U.S."

Can't speak for the other regions, as my concentration has been on the South... and often, narrowed down to Virginia and the differences found between the different parts of this place. For that matter, if I can ever get around to it, I plan on a post focusing on the differences found in Southern Appalachia.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"and all do not necessarily intersect with politics and/or religion, though some might."

I think much of what continues to make the South attractive does involve politics and culture (religion externalized). I suppose I give more weight to that than you do.

"glory be for independent thought and originality in human nature."

Agreed.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"differences found in Southern Appalachia."

Oh, most definitely. I'm quite interested in that topic as well. Jim Webb did an excellent job, in my opinion, in discussing some of that, though he was even more narrowly focused on the Scots-Irish. I've written about this difference just in Virginia. For example, the Tidewater area vs. our part of Virginia - generalizing, the aristocrats compared to yeoman stock.

Robert Moore said...

"All they asked in return was an acknowledgment that, if they had been wrong in the pursuit of independence, they had not been dishonorable and that they had fought a good fight that could be appreciated as a part of the pride of all Americans. Until rather recently that little has been granted, but "America" is now in the process of reneging on its part of the bargain."

Fact of the matter is, surrender and reunion didn't come with any such bargain, nor were all Southerners looking to the North for such a pardon. Post-1870, the door just became further opened, whereupon Southerners were able to honor their war dead, and begin a campaign of remembrance through monuments, veteran groups, etc. Some in the North looked the other way, some respected their former enemies for an honorable fight, some continued to despise Southerners for the fight, and some cringed when the others in the North turned eyes away when Southerners honored their dead through monuments... I've seen examples of all. There was no single clear-cut and fast rule on the matter. Strange to say, the terms Grant arranged... even though unconditional... and which Sherman also offered to Johnston... really left Confederates with some dignity. That wasn't forgotten by many Confederates, as I've seen in the Valley with some veterans here, when Grant died. That was a soldier-to-soldier nod, though Grant saw nothing worthy in the cause of the Confederacy, itself.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Here's one study on military demographics. It addresses much more than region but notes:

"We did find evidence of a Southern military tradition in that some states, notably in the South and West, provide a much higher proportion of enlisted troops by population."

Note: "much" higher proportion

See: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2005/11/who-bears-the-burden-demographic-characteristics-of-us-military-recruits-before-and-after-9-11

I'll dig up the other sources I have at some point and post.

Robert Moore said...

"Jim Webb did an excellent job"

Sorry, I cringe at what Webb did in his book. His description of life on Virginia's frontier was terribly out of balance. I just find him far too boastful (leaving me wondering if that's a reflection that he may be 100% Scots-Irish, and therefore totally lost in that). He should have stuck to telling stories about Vietnam.

Robert Moore said...

Got a reader who just took a 4-state to 4-state comparison, and shows that, at least in WW1, the four top Northern states contributed more than the four top Southern states in the break-down. Will be curious to see if the same fellow analyzes the whole shebang.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"surrender and reunion didn't come with any such bargain"

Officially no, but in practice and actuality, yes.

Robert Moore said...

As perceived by some Southerners, perhaps... but assumptions are rather tenuous to go on, without something tangible to support them.

Robert Moore said...

Actually, I happen to have an example of differences in Virginia culture posted in one of today's two blog posts. Apparently Richmonder Clopton didn't have much appreciation for Germanic-rooted ideas of fun that centered around apple butter making.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"I just find him far too boastful"

"It ain't braggin' if you can do it' - Dizzy Dean

I view it as simple pride in the remarkable contributions and spirit of the Scots-Irish. Nothing wrong with that.

Robert Moore said...

If Scots-Irish is all that he can claim in his heritage, then I guess that is to be expected. Despite the fact that even I have Scots-Irish roots, I have an equal appreciation for all the others in the family tree as well, and see it more as a combination of the bunch that made the Virginia frontier what it was... and not just one cultural group.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"I have an equal appreciation for all the others in the family tree as well"

As do I, but he postulates in the book that the Scots-Irish tendencies tend to be dominant in many aspects of American culture. Agree or disagree, that was one of the points of his book. I would tend to agree, though not 100%

Robert Moore said...

To bring this to full circle, call it my objection to Scots-Irish exceptionalism :)... which might be prompted by a rather dominant German heritage in me, although I'd probably have a problem with a similar Webb-like book focused on Germans in the Virginia frontier...

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

And a heavy dose of Welsh and English in me, nonetheless, "it ain't braggin' if . . ."