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When Your Ancestors Monuments Become ‘Racist Statues’

By Callwen | 30 August 2016

The Confederate Monument in Forsyth Park, Savannah – unveiled May 22, 1879
The Confederate Monument in Forsyth Park, Savannah – unveiled May 22, 1879

HEATHEN WOMEN — I recently was in Savannah and wanted to stop by the Confederate Memorial, to make sure it was a) still there and b) hadn’t been graffiti’d up. He’s still there, standing humbled in defeat, but at least not vandalized … yet. It’s protected by an iron fence, but I fear that’s not enough to protect it from the culture-destroyers.

It took years after the deep grief of war and devastation, before the first memorials went up in the South.  The Savannah Ladies Memorial Association started fundraising in 1868, three years after the end of the War Between the States in 1865.

In those first years, many women were in mourning, with the customs that went with it, like wearing black.  A hood was often part of a Victorian-era woman’s mourning, and sometimes even a veil.

The South had so many widows, it was a nation of walking shadows.  It was also likened to a sisterhood, like nuns in their habits.

weeping_veil1
Weeping Veil

Many were young and re-married, but often chose much younger or much older men, as so many men had been lost. A year and a day, was the respectable time to mourn. Some, like Mary Anna Morrison Jackson (widow of Stonewall Jackson) wore black their whole lives.

The South had so many widows, it was a nation of walking shadows.  It was also likened to a sisterhood, like nuns in their habits.

Many were young and re-married, but often chose much younger or much older men, as so many men had been lost. A year and a day, was the respectable time to mourn. Some, like Mary Anna Morrison Jackson (widow of Stonewall Jackson) wore black their whole lives.

To the Confederate Dead 1861 – 1865
To the Confederate Dead 1861 – 1865. This monument has a grieving widow at the base, under a weeping willow.

The monument even has torn pants, to symbolize Hamilton being wounded in combat three times, twice shot in the leg.  Sanford fell ill, and never fully recovered after the war. The monument’s soldier was modeled after Hamilton Branch, who went with his two brothers and fought at Manassas. John died there in the arms of his brother Sanford, who was captured on the battlefield with his dying brother.About 260,000 men of the South died, and 360,000 from the North. What’s freaky is that the vast majority on both sides died from disease, not battle.

Like a lot of Southerners, I have family who fought for the Confederacy, and I’m glad I’m not poisoned (like my brother) against our own ancestors. This same brother, incidentally, has the desk of our many greats grandfather — on the maternal side — who lost an arm in the war, and later became a judge.

My father’s grandfather was born as Sherman’s hordes came through, stealing gold pocket watches for him, and torching homes, barns, everything. He was named for Robert E. Lee and in another eerie sync, is the spitting ancestral likeness of this same mind virus-infected brother.

The complexities of history, like the reasons for taking a stand in the first place, are out-shouted and out-spent by those now saying, “It’s time to get rid of old, racist statues.” []

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