J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Banned Books Week

This week, schools and libraries across the nation are taking part in “Banned Books Read-out.” Everyone is asked to participate by acknowledging their favorite banned books, what it means to observe and uphold the First Amendment, and how banned books have impacted our lives. As an author, I can appreciate the importance of this event.

Many famous books have been banned in the past. Some examples are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Black Beauty,” and the Harry Potter books. The list is immense, and some books have been banned for obscure reasons.

Book censorship has been a problem since the beginning. Any book deemed too radical or politically incorrect is at risk of being banned. Although viewpoints have changed over the course of history, it is still unacceptable, in this author’s opinion, to ban the written word simply because certain groups don’t agree. The Nazi’s burned books that they banned, and religious fanatics, as well as those who are too concerned with political correctness, have made the same mistake. To me, this is similar to banning the Confederate flag, because some people associate it with racism. I urge everyone to read a banned book and expand your appreciation of these works, as well as our freedom.

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Students seek to revive ‘Rebel’ mascot in Richmond, Virginia

Students and alumni from a Richmond-area high school are seeking to revive the school’s historic mascot, a Confederate Soldier known as the “Rebel Man,” spurring debate from the liberal-left about the appropriateness of public school connections to the War of Northern Aggression and its icons. More than 1,200 students, alumni and parents with connections to Henrico County’s Douglas S. Freeman High School have signed a petition calling on the administration to use its original Rebel mascot — which dates to the 1950’s — for the school’s athletic events.

“I think he really represents us as the Southern school that we are,” said Alecsys Brown, 16, a rising senior at Freeman who helped start the petition. “Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, a Southern soldier really represents us as a school.”

Schools across the country have long adopted mascots to represent athletic prowess and community pride, but often the symbolic figures have led to people whining on the gridiron — and off. In 2010, the University of Mississippi gave-up its Colonel Reb mascot to appease Political Correctness. Other high schools in the South have faced liberal-Left pressure to drop the “Rebel” moniker because of its connection to the Confederacy, including Monroe High School outside Charlotte, which “Reconstructed” its mascot’s name into the “Redhawks”. This is occurring just a month after a group of students threatened “civil disobedience” and protested the use of Confederate Battle Flags in General Robert E. Lee’s historic chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA.

In the Richmond area where roots to the War for Southern Independence run deep, recent efforts to force the Rebel mascot into extinction have re-stoked passions among the community. Students say a new mascot would seem nonsensical for a school named after Douglas Southall Freeman — a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of both Lee and George Washington, the latter a rebel in his own right as the Commander of American

Revolutionary forces and the first President of the breakaway (Seceding) United States of America. Freeman opened in 1954, months after the Brown v. Board of Education decision integrated schools, said former Principal Edward H. Pruden.

“In the early days, students sang “Dixie” at football games and waved “Confederate flags all over the place,” Pruden said.

Although the school’s costumed mascot, clad in gray, was ceased at football games years ago, the athletic teams remain known as the “Rebels”.

Amanda Van Inwegen, a 2012 Freeman graduate, made a documentary for class about the school’s mascot and found little resistance to the use of a Confederate symbol. “While we were doing it, I almost wanted to stop because we didn’t find anything – everybody said this wasn’t an issue,” said Van Inwegen, 20, now a chemistry major at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. “Now it’s kind of ridiculous to go from a Rebel with historical significance to a lion, which doesn’t make sense.”

“Last school year, some of the student body expressed interest in creating a new representation of what personifies a Freeman Rebel,” Al Ciarochi, assistant superintendent for operations in the Henrico County school system, said in a statement.

“No decisions have been made in this regard, nor are there plans to reinstate the original mascot.”

Lamont Bagby, who is the only black member of the Henrico County School Board, said he would support a broader discussion on school mascots to include the Freeman Rebels.

Bagby noted that in nearby Hanover County, teams at Lee-Davis High School, named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, are known as the Confederates. Brown, the Freeman student, said she started the petition to show that many of her classmates want to reinstate the school’s original mascot as a point of pride.

“They are really upset because the Rebel Man is not offensive in any way,” Brown said. “This Rebel Man does not represent racism or slavery.”

Brown and a friend took their petition to a local 7-Eleven parking lot and recruited people on social media to sign it. In a three-hour span, they gathered 279 signatures. An accompanying online petition has received more than 1,000 signatures.

“Instead of rejecting tradition, we need to embrace it,” the petition reads.

(This article courtesy of Camp 1220 SCV “Barksdale’s Mississippians” Newsletter, September, 2014)

The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam)

The bloodiest single day of the Civil War took place on this date in 1862, near a small town named Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek.General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army confronted General George B. McClellan’s Union troops in what was the first major battle of the Civil War to take place on northern soil.

Major fighting took place across Millers cornfield, at Dunker Church, the Sunken Road, where the Yankees broke the Rebel center but failed to follow up the assault, and at a bridge spanning Antietam Creek. Charges and counter-charges over the bridge resulted in men piling up on one another so deep that advancing soldiers couldn’t get across. The river flowed red with their blood. The bridge later became known as Burnside Bridge.

Although Lee was outnumbered two to one, he managed to hold off the Yankees and retreat back to Virginia. McClellan failed to pursue, and the battle ended up being a draw. However, President Lincoln considered it enough of a victory to use it as a springboard in launching his Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863, freeing only slaves in Confederate states.

Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross after the war, was at the battle tending to the wounded, where she acquired the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.” She came close to death herself when a bullet shot through the skirt of her dress, but she escaped unscathed.

The battle claimed 23,000 casualties. It also led to McClellan’s dismissal as Major General of the Army of the Potomac. Among several remarkable landmarks that still exist at this battlefield site are the Sunken Road, Dunker Church, and Burnside Bridge,

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The American Civil War and Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

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Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is the largest in Ireland, with over one million burials since it first opened in 1832. Amongst the headstones are a number of graves and memorials to men who served far away from Dublin, representing both North and South in the American Civil War.

The Jesuit section of Glasnevin Cemetery, where many of that order are buried. Amongst those who lie beneath this cross is Father John Bannon (1829- 1913), the ‘Confederacy’s Fighting Chaplain’. He was sent to St. Louis following his ordination, and when war broke out he served as Chaplain to the First Missouri Confederate Brigade. He was captured with his unit following the fall of Vicksburg in 1863. He subsequently returned to Ireland in an attempt to assist in the disruption of Union recruitment efforts on the island.

Detail of the inscribed cross recording the names of the Jesuits buried in the order’s plot in Glasnevin. ‘P. Joannes Bannon’ can be seen second from bottom. Bannon never returned to America following the war, instead remaining in Ireland and becoming a Jesuit.

(This article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey SCV Camp 1452, Hernando, MS).

Abram Joseph Ryan

One of my favorite poets of the Civil War was Abram Joseph Ryan. Father Ryan (February 5, 1838 – April 22, 1886) was a Catholic priest and a proponent of the Confederacy. He has been called the “Poet Priest of the South” and the “Poet Laureate of the Confederacy.” Father Ryan served as a freelance chaplain for Confederate troops, serving at First Manassas, the Battle of Lookout Mountain, the Battle of Missionary Ridge, the Battle of Franklin, and the Battle of Nashville. Below is one of his poems:

CONFEDERATE HEROES C.S.A.

Do we weep for the heroes who died for us,

Who living were true and tried for us,

And dying sleep side by side for us;

The Martyr-band

That hallowed our land

With the blood they shed in a tide for us?

Ah! fearless on many a day for us,

They stood in front of the fray for us,

And held the foeman at bay for us;

And tears should fall

Fore’er o’er all

Who fell while wearing the Gray for us.

How many a glorious name for us,

How many a story of fame for us

They left: Would it not be a blame for us

If their memories part

From our land and heart,

And wrong to them, and shame for us?

No, no, no, they were brave for us,

And bright were the lives they gave for us;

The land they struggled to save for us

Will not forget

Its warriors yet

Who sleep in so many a grave for us.

On many and many a plain for us

Their blood poured down all in vain for us,

Red, rich, and pure, like a rain for us;

They bleed — we weep,

We live — they sleep,

“All lost,” the only refrain for us.

But their memories e’er shall remain for us,

And their names, bright names, without

stain for us;

The glory they won shall not wane for us,

In legend and lay

Our heroes in Gray

Shall forever live over again for us.

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