by Robert R. Mackey
Yesterday, I wrote on the subject of Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's proclamation of "Confederate History Month" and the misuse of history.
In response, the Governor's office issued a statement noting that "a major omission" in the original proclamation. That oversight?
That there were actual slaves in Virginia in 1861. And that they might not have been very happy about being forced to support an illegal government in rebellion against the United States. Yes, believe it or not, there were SLAVES in Virginia, and they JUST MIGHT have had something to do with "a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse."
Governor, you need to fix this proclamation...FAST. The damage has already been done to some extent; the NAACP and other civil rights organizations have already come out in protest to this planned celebration of all things Confederate. You've taken the first step by recognizing "...that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders."
Take the next step. Recognize the valor, sacrifice and patriotism of UNION soldiers, black and white, from Virginia. Recognize the fact that they--not the poor misguided victims thrown away by the Confederacy at Antietam, Gettysburg and the numerous battlefields in Virginia for some amorphous mixture of "states rights" and human bondage, sprinkled with a heavy dose of racism--were the true Virginian heroes of the Civil War. They stood by the Old Flag when their fellow Virginians went mad. They watched their homes and families scattered by bands of Rebel guerrillas and the Confederate government. Recognize the fact, that in the end, they returned home the victors but watched their victory be reviled by their neighbors, hated in their old age, and forgotten by their grandchildren.
Lastly, recognize, on the same level as the Confederate 'gods' Jackson and Lee, General George Henry Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, whose grave now lies in the loyal soil of Troy, New York. Whose loyal and patriotic service to the United States of America resulted, even in death, his banishment from his native Virginia. His service in Reconstruction should be recalled as well, as he led the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan, jailed local leaders who denied Constitutional rights of freed slaves and did all within his power--to include the use of military force--to uphold the rights of African-Americans and loyal white Unionists against the resurgence of racism and violence after the war.
Do the right thing Governor. Recall the proclamation. Reissue it as "Civil War History Month." Recognize all Virginians--not just white male secessionists--for whom the Civil War was the great crisis of their lives and left all Americans with issues that are still being addressed today. Use the month as an opportunity to discuss the hard questions of racism, war, and Federal vs. local government.
Crossposted from Huffington Post