I had the privilege of attending a flagging event yesterday (9/2/18) at Silent Sam’s pedestal on the UNC-CH campus with some folks from out-of-state. Most of them, I believe, were from South Carolina, and at least one was from Georgia; good folks, all of them, and I enjoyed being there. We could have used more North Carolinians, and in a way, the lack of fellow North Carolinians inspired this article. Things went smoothly for the most part. There were a few snide remarks mumbled by passers-by, but that was as out-of-hand as it got.
I did get the chance to talk to, and try to educate, a few people who stopped to ask questions.
There was one lady and her daughter, I didn’t get their names, obviously liberals, who stopped to ask a few questions. They were very polite, and posed intelligent, honest questions, asked out of true curiosity. The daughter, I think her mom said she was 17, much to my surprise, asked me one of the most informed, intelligent, yet simple questions I have ever been asked by anyone close to her age, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about the question that the mother asked, which I found hard to answer, because I couldn’t find the words to answer with.
She asked me, “What does that flag mean to you?” She really wanted to understand, and I found myself at a loss.
I paused a moment, then told her, “That’s hard to explain; it’s very personal. It means the Republic as the Founding Fathers meant it… It means States’ Rights… It means a small federal government, one that doesn’t invade every aspect of our lives… It means freedom… It means that I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Afterward, I was still thinking about that question; I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Then I closed my eyes, and suddenly there were images, sounds, smells… It was like my heart was trying to help me answer that question. So I decided to write this, since I seem to do better on “paper” than in person, and try to make the World understand “What that flag means to me.”
It does mean all the things I told her, the Old Republic, States’ Rights, a small federal government, freedom, and that I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. But it also means other things…
It means 14 generations (including my grand-children) of blood, sweat, tears, and faith. It means the smells of honeysuckle, azaleas, and magnolia trees. It means the feel of the dust that settles on your neck on a hot summer day after a beat-up old pick-up truck comes flying by in a cloud of the stuff. It means grits, fried chicken, and sweet-potato pie. It means the feel of hot, Dixie dust under your bare feet as you walk past the cotton, corn, and tobacco on a humid, sweltering summer day. It means the sweet, pungent smell of swamplands and the cool, damp taste of mountain air after an afternoon rain shower.
It means the feel of the river water on you when you dive in head-first on that sweltering summer day I mentioned. It means cornbread and iced tea. It means table-manners, and “sir” and “ma’am.” It means learning to drive on a dirt road in a beat-up old truck with a three-on-the-tree. It means homemade lemonade and peach cobbler. It means Grand-Daddy’s homemade Scuppernong wine. It means the smell of fresh cut grass on a springtime morning and the smell of cypress trees. It means Mama. It means Mama with a hickory switch. It means Mama always being at home when you needed her, and Daddy not working on Sunday. It means Grandma’s hot biscuits with honey and butter. It means Sunday-school and choir practice.
It means that very first shot of bourbon; that first sip of ‘shine. It means the back of Daddy’s hand if you get smart-assed. It means an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. It means that you’re home.
It also means my great-great-great-grand-daddy marching off to fight a war against his fellow Americans for a cause that was as righteous a cause as any man ever went to war for; freedom. It means brother meeting brother on the Field of Battle, or worse, father meeting son. It means that I have a heritage rich in men who would not be ruled by any other than the Almighty; men who would die rather live under the thumb of tyranny. It means the sound of cannon-fire and the smell of burnt powder. It means fine carriages rolling down oak-lined lanes, pulled by matching Tennessee Walkers. It means the screams of the wounded, the silence of the dead. It means lavish balls and parties; it means waltzes. It means the smell of gangrene and burning flesh. It means Southern Aristocracy, class, and elegance. It means Robert E. Lee, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and J.E.B. Stuart. It means Nathan Bedford Forrest. It means the ringing of sabers, the clash of bayonets.
It means that I have a duty to honor those men who wore gray and butternut. It means the Rebel Yell. It means I am tasked with passing on the torch of truth. It means that I must do what I can to protect the memory of the Confederacy and Her magnificent fighting men; if that means taking a stand against a violent enemy armed only with My Flag, then take that stand I shall. It means that a tragedy happened here, a thing that should never have happened, and wouldn’t have, but for the greed of men of lesser morale convictions than those whom they sought to subdue. It means that the ground I stand on is sacred ground, consecrated with the blood of men of all races, men of incredible courage, fortitude, and astounding ferocity in battle, men of the Armies of the Confederate States of America. It means courage, it means fortitude, it means tradition, and it means truth, but more than that, it means honor…
So… THAT’S what that flag means to me. What does that flag mean to YOU? Does it mean enough to you you to take a stand against the destruction of your history, your heritage? Are you REALLY Southern, or is it just an empty claim? It’s time to make a choice.
September 3, 2018
K. Lance Spivey (Facebook)