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Confederate History Month: Sparks fly at Battle of Selma re-enactment

By April 25, 2010Southeast Travel

A woman and her granddaughter at the Battle of Selma reenactment sport stickers that read: "We Support Confederate History Month."

SELMA, Ala. — Fake guns go off like firecrackers on the Fourth of July. But there’s no cheering here, not from the crowd gathered at the edge of this field in Selma, Ala. They’re here to watch the Civil War reenactment up ahead. Many are seated in lawn chairs, others on wooden bleachers, or blankets. For this crowd, this is no occasion for a hooting, howling good time. This is serious. This is important. This is their moment to experience history. Their history.

There’s an element of defiance in the air. Like the sulfur from the fake gunfire and cannons that rip through the air, muddying the bright blue sky. Like the Confederate flag up ahead, flapping in the wind. Like the stickers, affixed to the shirts of many in the crowd, with the words: “I Support Confederate History Month.”

Today’s reenactment marks a pivotal turning point in Civil War history: the Battle of Selma, a military engagement near the end of the war that saw Union General James Wilson deliver what would become one of the final, crushing blows to the Confederacy. But this reenactment marks a riff, more immediate, 145 years after the war’s official end, this month. When, week’s ago, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, declared, after an eight-year hiatus in the state, that April would, once again, be called: Confederate History Month. (Different takes here and here.)

Click below for various impressions from members of the crowd — some of their views may surprise you (Mac users: Open in Safari):

Diane Jones of Selma, Alabama, gives her take on the Civil War:

D. Coleman has attended six reenactments of the Battle of Selma. He explains why:

Confederate History Month — What are its enduring lessons?  Slavery? States’ rights? Comments welcome!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • J D says:

    I’m glad the artificial suppression of education about the Civil War will have a temporary lull in Virginia. Even if the only issue were shutting up racists it’s still not a good idea to abridge freedom of speech. i.e. If we allow flag-burning as an example of free speech we should allow criticism of flag-burners. Our political correctness has run amuck if we can’t honor those fallen. Maybe the virus that attempts to silence those who admire or are sympathetic to the confederacy has run its course and the fever is broken?

  • What most concerning about the Governor’s proclamation is the racial subtext. The proclamation has been carefully crafted to appeal to racial conservatives by recasting the history and meaning of the Civil War. It’s a symbolic gesture imbued with coded meanings that should not be excused simply on account of the facially race-neutral language.

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