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Only the Forgotten are Dead: Remembering My Confederate Ancestors

The removal of General Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville a few days ago hit me in the gut. It was one more victory for the “culture vultures” of what has become the Second Reconstruction.

The partisans of the Left won another victory. They want it ALL to go away – no more monuments to Confederate soldiers, no more statues honoring the women who waited for them at home…no schools named after Confederate greats, no street or avenue that bears testimony to the past. All down the memory hole. Just like the dystopia in Orwell’s 1984, they want to change the past…so that they can control the future.

This is not just another attack on Southerners. Don’t think Yankees or Westerners will be spared…This erasure is an assault on all White people in America. It doesn’t matter what state you live in, or whether your ancestors fought for the Confederacy or the Union – if you are White and unashamed, you are the target. All men and women of European blood will be affected if we lose the struggle to preserve Confederate memory.

Just for the record – I have an ancestor who fought for the Union, a man named John McAnallen. I honor him along with my Confederate forefathers. He’s politically acceptable, because he wore blue instead of gray. No one is calling John McAnallen a racist, or threatening to take down statues of Union soldiers – that kind of hate is directed only at my Confederate kin.

Ironically, if any Union veterans were around today, they would be overwhelmingly against the destruction of Confederate history. Blue and Gray soldiers  –  men who had shot at each other  –  reconciled easily after the war, soldiers respecting the prowess and courage of their former foes, men united by grief and haunted by the ghosts of the battlefield. Weeping, they embraced each other at the famous reunion of veterans from both sides half a century later.  The people plotting to remove Confederate memory simply do not comprehend the nobility of the common soldier fighting and dying for his cause  –  whether Union or Confederate.

These desecrations have been called “a new war on the Confederacy” by activists. Really? They say this lightly, neither understanding nor caring how these words anger all of us whose ancestors fought for the South. Men of our blood…men of our families, dammit!…died in that struggle defending their nation and their homes. We, their descendants, will never forget that, and we will never forgive those who dishonor their memory.

One of my great-great grandfathers was Private Isaac Shelton – of “F” Company, 39th Regiment, Georgia Infantry. He was wounded at Gettysburg, and was present at Appomattox on that sad day when General Robert E. Lee surrendered. And, no, like the great majority of men in the South, he didn’t own slaves.

To me Isaac Shelton is not just a name on an faded document – he and I are blood kin.  My faith teaches me this: The line of our ancestors transcends space, and time, and mortality. Our ancestors gave us the gift of life; it is our duty to pass that torch on to the next generation – and to defend the honor of those who have gone before us. I represent Isaac Shelton in the present day. I will not dishonor his name or those of my other Confederate ancestors, or the Cause for which they fought and bled, and the fact that I personally think slavery an abomination is not the point. If someone says they are going to declare “a new war on the Confederacy,” then we’ve got an issue.

It is important that all of you reading these words understand – my anger is not directed at Union soldiers or their descendants. They were, after all, soldiers rallying to the banners of their nation. Nor is it directed at their living kin today, for as I mentioned, I have my Union ancestors, too. Nor is it directed at the Black inhabitants of the South, then or now – and I raise my salute to the Black soldiers who fought alongside my Confederate kin. My anger is reserved for those who use the War Between the States as a weapon against all my White brothers and sisters, everywhere. For those who attack my people, there is no truce, only eternal strife.

Gray-clad men, their uniforms ragged, sometime with no shoes, often with empty bellies…fought, and bled, and died…for their country, for the Southland. I will not not let them be dishonored without standing in their defense.

There’s an inscription on the monument to Confederate General George Pickett that reads, “Only the forgotten are dead.” I will not forget. And I ask YOU not to forget, either, no matter on which side your forebears fought.

This is a war against all of us.

In that sense, we are all Confederates now.

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