Over the course of last week, ECW historians offered their thoughts and reactions to recent events related to Confederate memory. Wrapping things up: Daniel Davis
Has the South lost the Civil War? In reading through the posts last week, my answer is no; however, I tend to agree with Joe Owen. The South is in the process of losing the culture war.
I’m not sure the culture war will ever be lost as there will always be the American citizen who will fly a Confederate flag in their backyard, put a decal on their bumper or buy a t-shirt. This was made especially clear to me during a recent trip to Gettysburg over the Fourth of July weekend. Over the course of three days, I saw all of the aforementioned examples, including one absolutely ludicrous bikini with the battle flag design. It has been commented on and mentioned throughout the week on the Emerging Civil War—and I could not agree more—that there needs to be a common and respectful discussion about this issue from both sides.
We will never understand what it was like to live in the 1860s and to witness our Nation rip itself apart with so much death and destruction. Nor can we ignore the fact that at one time in our history slavery was a major part of our society. But I think all too often that conversation stops short, with the negative point in place. What is forgotten and I think in some cases ignored is the redeeming side of this story. An entire generation fought an unimaginably brutal conflict and gave their lives so that slavery would end. No society throughout human history is perfect, but we as Americans made and succeeded in an effort tocorrect ourselves.
This makes the Civil War an incredibly unique moment in the American experience and it is perhaps one of the conflict’s most important legacies. As the discussion about the Confederate battle flag continues to ebb and flow, I hope that some of the greatest impacts of the war on our Nation are not lost by its participants.