Civil War 150th Anniversary: Confederacy Defeat Should Be Holiday
Long article, much more at link, including support for the renaming of southern military bases that are currently named for Confederate officers. There are a lot of these: Benning, Hill, Lee, Gordon, Bragg, and several more.
I would add that more should be done to commemorate southern Unionists. Many of the latter died for their resistance to the Confederacy yet these patriots came to be vilified as “scalawags” in the corrupt mythology of the “Lost Cause.”
150 years ago this week, Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union. Let’s celebrate it—every year.
In a speech one month ago, the first black president of the United States challenged millions of white Americans to resist the convenient allure of overlooking the country’s blemished moral record. It was a dual challenge, actually—first to the classical understanding of American exceptionalism, but also to America’s persistent critics, who abjure the concept of exceptionalism altogether.
“What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this?” President Barack Obama said. “What greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”
This week provides an occasion for the U.S. government to get real about history, as April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War. The generous terms of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House foreshadowed a multitude of real and symbolic compromises that the winners of the war would make with secessionists, slavery supporters, and each other to piece the country back together. It’s as appropriate an occasion as the Selma anniversary to reflect on the country’s struggle to improve itself. And to mark the occasion, the federal government should make two modest changes: It should make April 9 a federal holiday; and it should commit to disavowing or renaming monuments to the Confederacy, and its leaders, that receive direct federal support.