1865 marked the official ending of the Civil War, one of the bloodiest, most violent wars fought in American history. It was a war marked by racism, vicious slavery and innumerable deaths of American citizens.
So why on earth would Southerners be embracing and even celebrating the 150th anniversary of the war now? The fact that people are cheering for the history of the Civil War instead of commemorating it is despicable, insulting and overwhelmingly ignorant.
Several southern states, including South Carolina, were throwing celebration extravaganzas, complete with costumes to “commemorate” the Civil War. This doesn’t seem like a commemoration to me. This seems like a celebration of slavery and outright brutality in the South. Why is this permissible? Someone surely should stand up and tell these people that blatant celebration is rude and distasteful.
There is still racism lurking beneath the surface of our country— we’re all aware. It’s bad enough that it is simmering in some corners of the country, but the fact that slavery era is celebrated is unacceptable. My biggest complaint about this celebration is that Southerners don’t seem to be paying respect to historical events, but instead they appear to be looking back at the past with nostalgia, yearning for what once was.
“It’s almost like celebrating the Holocaust,” Bernard Simelton, President of Alabama’s Conference of the NAACP said in an interview with USA Today.
More than 620,000 people, or two percent of the population, died in the Civil War. That’s not even counting civilians who were killed in crossfire.
Therefore, I find it exceedingly difficult for anyone to applaud this massive loss of life.
Also, permitting people to celebrate such an atrocity makes me nervous that it could cause a new uprising of anti-Semitism and racism. It has always been said we must study history to ensure we don’t repeat it.
The fact that no one is stepping up and preventing these celebrations is equally disturbing. The United States is no longer divided; we are a solid nation, therefore it is the responsibility of other states to address and modify this behavior.
Mark Simpson, South Carolina Division Commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said, “War and death is never something to celebrate, but we do celebrate the courage and the integrity of 170 men who signed their signatures to the Article of Secession—the courage of men to do what they think is right.”
I want to believe that this is the motivation for the various galas Southerners are holding in light of the 150-year anniversary, but I know better. The South’s representation and celebration of the anniversary of the Civil War is insensitive and unnecessary.
Whether Southerners are commemorating the courage of Confederate soldiers from the Civil War or celebrating deep-seated racism and slavery is debatable. Either way, I can’t condone their celebrations. They lack respect, couth and awareness.
Commemorating the Civil War is a process that needs to be taken on delicately and respectfully, due to its overwhelmingly controversial nature in American history.