J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Dallas”

Dishonoring Memphis’ History

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Memphis just can’t leave well enough alone. In 2013, the city council voted to change the names of three parks in the city, specifically Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Jefferson Davis Park, to names more politically correct and anti-Confederate. It’s astonishing to me how some Southern cities like New Orleans, Charlottesville, Dallas, and of course, Memphis, want to disregard their history. Not only that, but some members of the city council want to move General Forrest and his wife’s bodies from Forrest Park (they are now buried beneath the statue of the general on King Philip) and move them to Elmwood Cemetery. There is a reason General Forrest and his wife were moved to Forrest Park from Elmwood Cemetery in 1905: out of enormous admiration and respect. Now the city wants to disregard this and display flagrant disrespect.

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MEMPHIS CHAMBER OPPOSES MONUMENTS

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce is mobilizing support for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s request for a State waiver to allow the City to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in violation of State Law.

In advance of the Oct. 13 meeting on the Tennessee Historical Commission, where Strickland will make his case, the chamber’s board of directors has drafted a letter “in behalf of the business community.”

The letter calls the statue of the Confederate general, “one of several divisive symbols that hamper our city’s efforts to attract and retain top talent for the skilled workforce that is critical to our success.”

The Chairman of the Historical Commission has told Mayor Strickland that the Commission will not hear the city’s request for a waiver at the Oct. 13 meeting in Athens, Tennessee.

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(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Oct. 6, 2017 ed.)

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Confederate Monuments Under Attack

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Recently, the editor of the Dallas Morning News put the paper on record demanding the removal of Confederate monuments in Dallas. One of the paper’s soon to be unemployed writers used his column to challenge the editor’s.

The following appeared in the Dallas Morning News:
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In these very – I mean very – weird times of ours, few phenomena appear weirder than what I would describe as the mania for pulling down or otherwise removing memorials to dead Confederates. New Orleans has done it. My own University of Texas has done it. Dallas now talks of doing it, as my respected one-time colleague at The News, James Ragland, informs us.

I feel the urgent need to inquire of the iconoclasts, the breakers of images: Why? To what purpose? With what sensible aim in view?

The reply generally comes through clenched teeth: Hmmmph! On account of slavery, isn’t that clear enough? The promoters commonly think it is. Why, these unconscionable rebels – Jeff Davis, Robert E. Lee, John B. Hood, and so on – betrayed their country and fought to preserve slavery. Their images defile and deface the American community, sowing disharmony, perpetuating racism.

I find it’s generally a waste of time to interpose between Lee’s grave, bearded image and the wreckers’ wrath any information respecting the old general’s meritorious character and, equally to the point, his postwar commitment to healing the nation’s self-inflicted injuries. (During the war, his name for the soldiers of the North was always “those people.”) The statue wreckers are seldom interested in the kind of historical detail that schools used to impart about the war itself: with due attention paid to the diligent measures required over many years to heal the gaping, bleeding wounds of war.

Let’s go back to where we started. What are we trying to do here? We’re out, are we, to heal by destroying and displacing, thereby rekindling divisive passions? What an odd conceit, that we should forcibly replace old pieties with new ones, and expect thanks for it! I am sorry to inform the wreckers that, as we say in the South, that ole dog won’t hunt.

I can appreciate, as I think everyone must, that 1) the abolition of slavery represented an enormous gain for civilization, that 2) the sooner blacks and whites learn to function as a united people, the better for America, and that 3) the modern South teems with folk – Vietnamese, Cubans, Chinese, Mexicans, Californians – who wouldn’t know “Dixie” from a Mesopotamian funeral chant.

I am not in favor of, as many seem to be, re-fighting a war that ended 152 years ago. I am for continuing to absorb the experience all of the country went through then and forging even a larger unity than existed before this statue nonsense arose.

The whole enterprise of taking down statuary to appease the ideological passions of a talkative handful is silly. I cannot think of a better word for it. It’s ridiculous: unworthy of a mature and sensible people.

Once the statues are down, what have you got besides some suddenly vacant pedestals? Well, not moral unity, that’s for sure. You’ve made a lot of people mad who weren’t previously mad at you. You’ve called into question your intellectual bona fides by twisting historical facts to fit a manufactured and distorted narrative. To espouse a silly cause is to run the risk of becoming known as silly.

The matter goes still further. So Dallas goes along with unhorsing Gen. Lee, right there in the park bearing his name (which name, of course, has to be changed to something appropriately anodyne). Yet that’s hardly the logical end. The revolution is hungry. We have to wipe out school names, street names, fort names redolent of the late Confederacy. And not just the Confederacy. The American slaveocracy was large; it was powerful. Among its members: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, with their large monuments and even larger legacies. What makes Robert E. Lee a likelier target than the Father of Our Country?

This business of digging up the dead and exhibiting their shortcomings has no predictable end. Today’s heroes and heroines become fair game for great-grandkids: topics for future ridicule and disrespect. Seldom in our history – alas – has the counsel to look before you leap seemed more relevant, or more ignored, than right now.

(Courtesy Southern Heritage Newsletter, July 28, 2917 ed.)

The Great General Lee

 

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One of my favorite people who lived during the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. If Lee were alive, he would be celebrating his 209th birthday today. He came from a distinguished Virginia family, and his father, Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, fought in the Revolutionary War. Lee graduated at the head of his class at West Point, and served gallantly in the Mexican War. His integrity was unsurpassed, because he resigned his commission with the U.S. military to defend his home state of Virginia once the Civil War broke out. With reluctance, he did his duty, and performed it well up until the end of the war.

General Lee was deeply religious. He was a gentleman and a nobleman. He freed his slaves before the war started, unlike Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who freed his slaves after the war ended. Lee served as president of Washington and Lee University, but the war took its toll, like it did on so many soldiers. He only survived five years after the war ended.

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Lee was revered  by his countrymen, both North and South alike, as one of the finest generals America has ever produced. Dwight D. Eisenhower, America’s 34th president, said of him:

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause….he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle.

Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul.”

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When Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president, spoke at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Statue in Dallas, Texas, on June 12, 1936, he said: “I am happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of Lee. All over the United States we recognize him as a great general. But also, all over the United States, I believe we recognize him as something much more than that. We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our Greatest American gentlemen.”

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General Lee has always been highly regarded… that is, until recently. Now, certain interest groups have been striving to disparage his name. It is shameful that they want to remove the Confederate battle flag that he fought under from his gravesite, or do away with his statues. It is also shameful that they are defacing monuments with graffiti. Just because political attitudes have changed, which they are always bound to do, is no excuse for erasing the past and defaming such an important historical figure.

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles.”                                                                   – General Robert E. Lee

General Lee appears in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/0595435319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453239012&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

 

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