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!