31 October 2017

"Robert E. Lee Was An Honorable Man"

So says General John Kelly. Of course, many of us already know that. General Kelly also seems to reject faddish presentism.

23 October 2017

Are Most Students Ignorant of History?

Two liberal-minded and respected scholars discuss the state of education in America. Draw your own conclusions.

19 October 2017

Co-Ops and the Rural South

I came across a fascinating video (circa 1945) in my news feed this morning discussing the role and importance of co-ops. The "documercial" was produced by the Department of the Army Civil Affairs Division. The 2 part film discusses co-ops in Rockingham County, Virginia. Rockingham is the neighboring county to the one I live in (Augusta) here in the Shenandoah Valley. Co-op growth in the United States exploded during and after the Great Depression - especially in rural areas. They were, literally, necessary to survival during those challenging years.

One of the co-ops featured in this film is Rockingham Cooperative. It's still in existence today. As a matter of fact, it's thriving. They just purchased the local Ace Hardware near my home a couple of years ago. Staying true to their roots, they immediately announced they would be closed on Sundays; something I truly appreciate. I do business with several other local co-ops that date to this era here in the Valley and am a member of several of them as well. One of them is mentioned in the film - Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-Op.

There is also brief mention in the film of the Civil War in the Valley. One thing that puzzles me though, I'm suspicious that the voice-over is an actor and not really one of the locals as stated in the film. That accent is in no way even close to one a native Valley resident would have - even today.

Fortunately, much of the close, community spirit depicted in this film still exists in the small, rural communities of the Valley and others throughout America. There are several locations in the film I recognize. When watching old films from this era, I often get the strange feeling that I was born too late.

12 October 2017

Relic Hunting Post #166 - A Remarkable New Book

This will be on my nightstand for the next few weeks. Written by fellow Virginian and relic hunter Bill Dancy, I've been looking forward to its release for many months. Bill sent me a copy to review for Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine. I've just given the oversized, coffee-table styled book a quick perusal but I must say, I am already convinced it is destined to be the "go to" resource for those interested in Colonial Virginia artifacts and archeology. Expertly written with stunning photography and personal, "in the trenches" experiences, it would be an excellent addition to the library of anyone interested in Virginia history. I'll save the rest for my review, but this is truly a remarkable piece of work.

11 October 2017

New Monument Goes Up

From the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation:
The North Carolina monument is up! Thanks again to everyone in North Carolina who made this possible. We will have more interpretive signage coming soon as we continue to enhance the visitor experience at the newly preserved West Woods at the Third Winchester Battlefield Park.
Also worth noting is the organization's position on monuments. It is one of the reasons I recently became a member.

09 October 2017

JFK on RE Lee

"For, as a New Englander, I recognize that the South is still the land of Washington, who made our Nation - of Jefferson, who shaped its direction - and of Robert E. Lee who, after gallant failure, urged those who had followed him in bravery to reunite America in purpose and courage." ~ John F. Kennedy, September 17th, 1960.

07 October 2017

Charlottesville Lee Monument Staying Put?

It would appear things may not go the way many of the the "experts" in the Civil War blogosphere predicted (and were hoping for) in regards to the Chartlottesville Lee monument.
A circuit court judge said Wednesday that a state law protecting war memorials applies retroactively to Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but he wants more proof that the statue of a single historical figure counts as a military monument.Finding no fatal flaw in a Virginia statute preserving war statues, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore’s ruling upheld most of a lawsuit seeking to block Charlottesville from removing the Lee statue from a downtown park. ~ Richmond Times Dispatch
Of course, the final decision has not been rendered and I would imagine, regardless of the decision handed down, the losing side will likely appeal. But the judge's reasoning seems to be on solid ground. The largest question at this hearing seemed to be whether the 1997 law protecting war monuments could be applied "retroactively" to monuments placed prior to 1997. On that point, the court ruled in the affirmative. (Actually, any other ruling would have been absurd, knowing that the vast majority of war memorials in the Commonwealth of Virginia were built and placed long before 1997. The intent of the law is rather obvious to the objective reader.)

But the court is asking for more historical details regarding whether or not the Lee monument would "qualify" as a war memorial. Since Lee is depicted in his uniform with his sword at his side, I think that answer is also obvious. Moreover, the United States Department of the Interior and National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places Registration Form seems to make it abundantly clear that the Lee statue is, indeed, a war memorial:
Paul McIntire instructed that the local chapters of three organizations, the Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy should have entire charge of the planning of the exercises for the unveiling of the sculpture in Charlottesville and it was thus presented to the city on 21 May 1924, during a gala Confederate reunion. One hundred cadets from the Virginia Military Institute paraded through the center of a Charlottesville gaily decorated with Confederate colors …Three-year-old Mary Walker Lee, a great-grand-daughter of General Lee, then pulled the Confederate flag draped over the sculpture away, and the crowd cheered loudly …
Let's see, you have three Veteran's organizations present at the unveiling (which happened to be a Confederate reunion), you have 100 VMI cadets parading and you have a battle flag draping the monument prior the the unveiling. I don't know about you, but veterans, a military parade and battle flags? Yeah, that sounds like the unveiling of a "war memorial" to me.

Assuming the plaintiffs can satisfy the court's request, it's not looking too good for the "remove" folks. We shall see.

General Lee may yet triumph in Charlottesville.

05 October 2017

More Richmonders Want To Keep Confederate Statues Than Not

Some folks have suggested that national polls showing a healthy majority of Americans are opposed to removing Confederate monuments are irrelevant. Since some of these same folks have gone so far as to even question the legitimacy of Confederate monuments in National battlefield parks like Gettysburg, I find that opinion rather strange. These parks belong to all Americans; not just the residents of Gettysburg. But these polls matter in another sense: they reveal, once again, that many academic and professional historians (and other talking heads) are out of touch on this topic.

More evidence of this is revealed by a headline in this morning's Richmond Times Dispatch:

"Majority of Richmond residents oppose removing Confederate statues, support adding historical context" 

Will the local politicians follow the will of their constituents? We shall see. I also found this observation rather interesting as well:
The poll results, Kidd said, help explain why Democratic politicians have “backed off their initial strident position that we needed to take all the statues down.”
On the topic of "adding historical context", I think that is rather silly and condescending. Folks tend to have strong opinions, one way or the other, on the monuments and adding "context" is not going to change their minds. One side will nod in agreement while the other will suspect PC revisionism. I think the best and most peaceful resolution is to add more monuments to those Americans who have been overlooked. Don't subtract, add. Don't destroy, build. Wouldn't that be a more peaceful and accommodating solution for all sides?

03 October 2017

Gun Control Would Not Have Stopped Las Vegas Massacre

It's always mind-boggling (and sad) to watch how quickly some folks will turn a tragedy like the massacre in Las Vegas into an opportunity to advance a political agenda. It's also mind-boggling to note that the "most educated" among us base their proposed solutions (as well-intentioned as some may be) on emotion and demonstrably failed "solutions." On this topic, Rich Lowry made some noteworthy observations today at National Review today. Lowry notes that, "gun-controllers tend to be low-information advocates." I recommend Lowry's piece for a dose of reality.

Had this evil man not had access to guns, he would have found some other method to carry out his slaughter. It happens all the time without guns. Evil humans do not stop perpetrating evil because their method of choice is illegal. Evil humans are diabolical and, often, very intelligent. They will find other methods to kill because they are evil, not because guns are legal.
The images from Las Vegas are sickening. There’s the sound of gunfire truly worthy of a war zone as people scream and run and cower, with nowhere to go. This shouldn’t happen in America; it shouldn’t happen anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that the off-the-shelf obsessions of gun-control advocates would do the slightest thing to stop it. ~ Rich Lowry

01 October 2017

New Wendell Berry Documentary

I've been a fan of Wendell Berry's for many years and share much of his philosophy on the agrarian lifestyle. Growing up and living in rural western Virginia, I suppose that comes natural. A new documentary will soon be released about Berry's life. His line in the poem in this trailer: "I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city", reminded me of the ongoing effort to remove all Confederate monuments and rename schools, streets, etc. so the South will be more like "the rest of America" without its unique landscape and history. Homogenization. I'm looking forward to the film's release.