Capt. Elijah Tillman. Army of Northern Virginia, 1862-1863. Wounded at Antietam. Georgia Militia Cavalry, 1863-1865. He was also my great-great-great-great-grandfather.
There. Now that the need to justify my credentials is out of the way, let the hate begin.
How should an ignorant stumpjumper respond to African American leaders calling for the state to apologize for slavery? Propose naming an entire month "Confederate Heritage Month". For those of you who don't dabble in good ol' fashioned southern racial politics, it's also a subtle swipe at February's "Black History Month". Don't believe me? Ask any of these "heritage" pukes what they think about Black History Month and you will get a response along the lines of "why do they get a special month and we git nuthin!"
Here's the bottom line. You lost. Not once but twice.
The first loss should be familiar. In a whirlwind of blood, over 500,000 Americans lost their lives. Entire regions were scourged for generations. The country penanced its sin of human bondage in a crucible of lead and fire.
The second loss is hardly reported. Despite the lingering taint of the conflict spawning lynchings and Jim Crow, both sides generally recognized the bravery of the individual combatants. Then, in the tumultous back rooms of the 50s, not discussed in the Leave It To Beaver fantasyland of some, things changed.
Legislatures began adding the Confederate battle flag to state banners. "Heritage" groups began concerning themselves less with preserving cemetaries and battlefields and began meddling in racial politics. Organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans became hideouts for thinly veiled night riders who believed white sheets served purposes other than covering beds.
As the noted southern historian Shelby Foote once commented regarding his resigning from the Sons, "we had an opportunity to fight for the symbols of our past. The symbols we honor. But instead we stood by and did nothing as people filled with hate stole our most precious items. They no longer belong to us."
I do honor my ancestor. Although the prism of modern thinking allows me to embrace the guilt that he was definitely wrong, there is a part of me which understands his need to sacrifice for what he believed was right. A thousand miles from his south Georgia home, in the rolling hills of Maryland, he shed blood for that belief. Despite the sin of this cause, the giving should still be honored.
However, due to the tacit compliance of a prior generation of the "good people of the south" in allowing the race peddlers to overwhelm all else, a complicity continued by peckerwoods like Sen. Jeff Mullis, the honor seems distant and all I am left with is the taint.