Saturday, February 21, 2009

Aiken Civil War Reenactment-living history

Today we went to the Aiken SC fifteen miles from the Georgia border to see a reenactment of the Aiken battle during the civil war. It was an awe inspiring thing to experience. We saw artifacts—mostly guns, some clothes--from that period. A guy had a few confederate dollars remade so he could show us, and he had cut one of them into half and then eighths so we could see how they used to give change. Silver was silver, the value of the coin was always in your hand. There was a demonstration of the cannon being fired and felt as if it reverberated through my entire body. Then the reenactment started. The guns exploded, the cannons boomed, leaving behind a haze in the air from all the smoke. The whole idea of the civil war is more real to me than it ever was before. Mostly because as I sat there listening to men playing the role of all the major players in the confederate army I realized that most of the people sitting there watching with me were cheering for the confederate army to win. Okay granted it was put on by the Son's of the Confederate Veterans, but I was a little shocked that it was all so one sided. A woman sitting next to me asked me quite honestly, “Do we win this, or do the Yankees?”
To which I could only respond, “It was the civil war—could anyone really win?”
Nothing was said about Abraham Lincoln or any of the major players on the Northern side. At one point the crowd was taught the rebel yell, and how people responded was interesting. Some were enthusiastic; others were simply timid trying to appease the man playing the role of General Robert E Lee, others in the crowd looked around in stunned silence.
Watching the two sides fight was sad for me. Most people were enjoying the fight and were enthusiastic about the weapons--granted this was mainly a boy thing, and I am not putting an age limit on it. But for me, I cried. Men lining up courageously less than twenty-five feet from each other and shooting into the lines across from them bravely. It wasn’t like a coward wearing a suicide bomb blowing people up. These soldiers met eye to eye and fought valiantly for what they believed in. I know it was just acting, but when men fell I remembered the men and women, who over the course of our country gave, and still give their lives in her defense. It was tragic to me that the same forces who had fought so diligently together for their freedom, only a few generations later would be fighting each other. And what for? Why was the civil war fought? I like to think of the civil war as ironing out the kinks of a young country—we can all relate that at times the process of strengthening is often painful. The cost is often high. It started with the factories verses the raw materials—foreign trade, and who should govern the state or the federal government? Should states be able to secede from the union if they don’t agree with the national government? All of these things needed to be resolve for the United States to become the great nation it is today.
Do you notice I haven’t brought up slavery? Do you notice how it is danced around, vaguely implied? This is my experience in the South. People around here do not talk directly about race or the part it played in not only the history of this country, but in their everyday lives now. Like it or not it we are different, different ethnicity's exist, but since I have lived in South Carolina, I have noticed the strangest anomaly, racial issues are the elephant in the corner, everyone knows it’s there, but nobody talks about it. Maybe the true segregation of the South in this day and age is a new kind of fear--not a fear of oppression, or bigotry, it is the fear of offense. Since I have lived in the first state to secede from the union in the civil war, native southern folk of all different ethnicity's, whisper to me—literally whisper-- how it must be so different here, how we must really notice a difference in the culture here. Always dancing around the issue at hand-- not wanting to give offense and certainly not wanting to be seen as the oppressor or the oppressed, this strange sort of segregation occurs, and it is based simply on the strange fear of offending.
So can I tell you what the civil war was really fought over in the south? No not really, nobody would say. I can say in a state where everywhere we go, the two dominant ethnicity's always have a healthy representation, today at Aiken SC--with the rebel flag floating through the air, among the sea of thousands of white faces, I only saw one African American. You may make your own suppositions. I on the other hand am going to go try and explain to my seven year old son, who never noticed segregation until today, how we are all created in God’s image--no matter what tint the skin of that image happens to be. And God bless America, that I have the freedom to do that.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kaleb visits the Ballet

Kaleb had a field trip to the Ballet, they were dancing out the story of Snow White. He came home and was very quiet about it. I probed to learn how it went and sweet Kaleb finally said the bus ride was really long. I like to think that my kids are being raised to appreciate the arts, but I think something about the experience frightened him. Based on a few things Kaleb said, it may have been the witch who becomes the old hag, the kissing to wake the princess, but more than likely it was how all the boy dancers were dressed. Kaleb respected that everyone was really strong, but it was just "weird" for him. A little while ago we went to a Southern BBQ place that had every kind of Buffalo wing imaginable. It was fun to try all the different varieties. After we watched as a band warmed up for a street fair later that evening. Kaleb was rocking out and Tavi was in touch with her inner guitar player. Everyone else standing around were much more amused by the kids than the band. Since then Octavia and I have been sick. For some reason Octavia can't sleep unless she has an arm draped over my face. We got up four times last night so I could put her back in her own bed. I've never been a fan of kids in my bed, simply because I was terrified I'd suffocate one of them, I wonder how Tavi isn't so worried about this. Perhaps she is comforted knowing I am incapable of falling asleep so there really is no danger. Chad is working hard at the hospital. It is a different working environment , and he is rising to the challenge. I've been called back into the Young Women's. I am really excited to work with the youth again. I was called to be the secretary, which has to be more for my benefit, but whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies. Anyway, that's what we are up to. Loves to all.