Mission Of This Blog

The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest. Topics include (but are not limited to): Travel & Photojournalism, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Americana, Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cultural Heritage, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate, Confederate Heritage Preservation & Awareness, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Night Sky Photography, Literacy & Writing, Southern Cuisine, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Fandom, Local Folklore ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Common Sense On The Display Of The Dixie Cross

Someone sent me a link to yet another misinformed rant from a pro-racist, anti-Confederate heritage reactionary:

I decided that I would go ahead and write a response to the article, but found that after posting four equally misinformed responses from like-minded Tools that went along with the flawed and faulty premise of the article, the closed-minded coward apparently closed the comments section out of fear that he would be schooled by someone knowledgeable of the issue.

Well since it was his article, the author, one Mr. Paul F. Bradley, has every right to evoke censorship.

However, since this is my uncensored blog, I have every right to offer my personal response to the article, point by point.

Let's begin shall we?

Limit Public Use Of The Confederate Flag  (Snort)

As the country has commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag has been paraded at events across the country. (Actually there are many different Confederate battle flags -- though I presume Mr. Bradley refers to the Dixie Cross pattern itself rather than say the Missouri Battle Flag, or the Hardee Battle Flag -- oh and FYI that flag and others like it have been paraded at events across the country long before the sesquicentennial of the War Between The States.) In the commemorative context - at battle reenactments, museums, and cemeteries - it seemed appropriate. Beyond that, is there a more divisive and controversial symbol in America? (I can name several off the top of my head: The Obama symbol and other political symbols of candidates both Left and Right -- why campaigning politicians need their own symbols these days like sports logos is beyond me .)

I live in suburban America. (Really? So do I!) The neighborhoods and surrounding landscape are filled with picturesque woods, river vistas, and neatly trimmed houses with retail shopping at major road crossings. Old Glory (the real U.S flag) waves from nearly every other porch. (Old Glory flies from my porch too -- though it does have company. Also I don't dispute the fact that the US flag is Old Glory....but the terms US flag and American flag I don't really consider the same things.)

On a recent run, though, I stopped in my tracks. On one street I counted four Rebel battle flags (two bumper stickers, one hanging in the back window of a pickup truck, and one that snapped menacingly in the late winter winds). (Wow and he saw all of this at once? He must have eagle eyes this one.) This is just outside Philadelphia. (Go Eagles!)
Visually, the Rebel battle flag is captivating. (Captivating, yet menacing according to the schizophrenic mind of the writer.) With its red field, blue stripes, and white stars, it was a 19th-century marketing gem. Red symbolizes power and aggression and psychologically strikes fear, and no doubt that was the hope as this banner was carried into battle by Robert E. Lee's troops. (Not just General Lee's troops. By 1864 the Confederate Army of Tennessee had its own version of the Dixie Cross battle flag.)
To some, this flag is a symbol of Southern heritage. It represents the pride and courage of the Southern soldiers who challenged perceived federal tyranny during the War Between the States. (That and much more: a symbol of a living Southern cultural identity and pride, as well as a memorial symbol of the Southern dead from the War.)
But others are hoisting the flag as the symbol for their à-la-carte (humm, what is on the menu? LOL!) application of federal law. As a counterargument, one only needs to review the rationales that accompanied the states' ordinances of secession and the Confederate Constitution: Slavery trumped states' rights as the cause for the war. (To give the writer credit, at least he didn't bore us all with the litany of cut-and-paste history that usually accompanies articles like this one.)

For countless others, the flag is a symbol of oppression that was resurrected in the decades after it was furled at Appomattox Courthouse. Hate groups, segregationists, and opponents of the civil rights movement, including certain Southern states, appropriated the flag and used it to intimidate. (Humm, yeah, look at how those bigots misused and misappropriated an honorable American symbol to promote their sick, twisted ideology. I can especially see the pain and hurt in that last photo.)

Opponents of Civil Rights....check.
Misuse by Hate Groups....Double Check.

Some of these states, including Georgia, eventually yielded to public pressure and removed the battle flag from their state banners. (If by "public pressure" Mr. Bradley actually means: removed because of a State Legislature that took matters into their own hands at the complaints of angry "civil rights" groups promoting a pro-racist ideology regarding that flag over the objections of the vast majority of voters in their own districts, then the statement would probably be correct.) Mississippi has not. (Most likely because they allowed their citizens to vote on the matter, and the result was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it across ethnic lines, but that's a dirty little secret that one.) South Carolina no longer flies the flag from atop its Statehouse but still has it on the grounds.

People have a First Amendment right to fly the flag, (They do indeed.) but common sense and compassion for the pain it causes should dictate otherwise. (And how exactly does indulging ignorance in favor of a wrong-thinking view of that flag promoted by racial bigots apply as "compassion" in any common sense application of logic? Strangely I never get a realistic response for that question, though I ask it time and time again. Certainly taking the time to educate, to teach the full history of that flag is better in the long run than simply handing it over to those who would continue to misuse it without a fight. That is what a REAL educator would do.) As Indiana Jones once said about another article of antiquity, "It belongs in a museum." (And recall the response: "So do you." That and the fact the original battle flags already are in museums just makes people who throw this argument around look even more foolish than they already seem to most learned people.)

Display the flag in museums with uniforms, weaponry, and other period artifacts. Unfurl it at reenactments. But eliminate it from official use. (I was unaware the bumper stickers, porches, and front bumper tags on cars constitutes "official use" in any way. Humm.)

I hope that by the bicentennial of the Civil War, the Rebel battle flag will be a long-tucked-away vestige of our history, an artifact used as a teaching tool. (Ah mercifully this train wreck is over!)

Now here is where those who honor that flag see a much different future than this misinformed fellow from Philly.

After close to 25 years of attacking that flag, the Opposition has failed to completely do away with its public display. Indeed, now it seems as if the tide of history is turning against them. In fifty years, it is my hope (and that of many other defenders of Confederate heritage and Southern identity) that noble banner of the American Southland will be feared by nobody and accepted fully as the cultural symbol that is has become to a great many people, and not just in the American South. 

It is my hope that by the bicentennial of the War Between The States, the Dixie Cross banner will be on display prominently and proudly by Southerners of all races and faiths who honor it properly. It is my further hope that in fifty years hence the misuse of it by racist bigots (if any still exist then, and sadly I fear given human nature they might) will be extinct, or otherwise no longer taken seriously by anyone, thanks in no small part to the efforts of noble Southern heritage defenders. 

Regardless if you believe that or not, there is one truth that is certain, the public display of that flag today is not going anywhere anytime soon. Those who honor that flag rightly as a symbol of identity and heritage will continue to move forward. There will continue to be public displays of that flag in various contexts in the decades to come, and by an increasing diverse group of Southern-born Americans and Confederate descendants alike.

That is the reality.

I have two bumper stickers. One with a Dixie Cross banner that reads: I am A Proud Descendant Of A Brave Confederate Soldier. The other reads: Coexist.
I would suggest - using a little Southern Fried Common Sense - that the best thing to do would be for those who disapprove of that flag's display to accept that fact and find some way to come to mutually acceptable terms with those who honor that flag for all the right reasons, and ultimately find proper common sense solutions where everyone can coexist and nobody has to be offended, or forced to feel guilty about who they are as a people.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Planetary Photography - 04-20/21/22- 2015 - Luna & Venus Passing In Sky

The following photos I took over a three day period documenting the passing of Venus and Luna in the night sky. I was fortunate to have good weather conditions all three days. The photographs were all taken between 8:20 PM to 8:45 PM EST.

Unfortunately, on the last day (April 22) there was cloud cover after I took the last photograph, and then rainy conditions, so I was unable to get any photos of the Lyrid Meteor Shower at its peak that evening.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

In Memory Of Those Who Wore The Blue And The Gray

"After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources."
                                                     ~General Robert E. Lee (CSA)

150 Years Ago This Weekend, The American Civil War (War Between The States) 1861- 1865 Officially Ended When Confederate General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia near Appomattox Court House on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

However, fighting would continue elsewhere. Confederate General Joseph Johnston would later surrender the  Army of Tennessee, the second-largest effective Confederate army, to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina, on April 26. There were still soldiers in the field.

On May 4, Confederate General Richard Taylor surrendered the 12,000 men serving in the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. Then, on May 12–13, more than a month after Appomattox, the last battle of the Civil War took place at Palmito Ranch, Texas. Confederate General Kirby Smith, head of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department, wanted to keep fighting afterward, but Confederate General Simon B. Buckner surrendered for him on May 26.

On June 23, the last holdout, Confederate General Stand Waite, surrendered in Indian Territory (present day US State of Oklahoma) to Union Colonel Asa C. Matthews. However, the war at sea went on until November, when the last Confederate commerce raider, the CSS Shenandoah, learning of the surrender of Lee's Army from captured newspapers, finally surrendered to British authorities in Liverpool, England on November 6, 1865. Its flag, a Confederate Second National "Stainless Banner" was the last Confederate flag to fly in any "official" capacity as the banner of a sovereign nation. 

This post is dedicated not to that ugly and terrible war, but to the memory, the courage, the sacrifices, the individual lives, the devotion to duty, and the overall legacy of the brave American citizen soldiers - Union And Confederate - who served their respective governments and in defense of their homelands; to those who died and to those that survived those four dishonorable years of this nation's history, and ultimately won an honored place in the hearts and the heritage honored by their living descendants.

God Bless America -- South, North and West.

United Confederate Veterans (UCV) Reunion.
United Confederate Veterans In Parade.
Union Veterans, Grand Army Of The Republic (GAR) Reunion.
Grand Army Of The Republic Review.
GAR And UCV Veterans At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 1913. 50th Anniversary of the Battle.
Former Enemies - Now American Veterans And Brothers: Billy Yank And Johnny Reb Meeting At The Stone Wall, Gettysburg, PA. July 3, 1913
Two American Veterans.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 3, 1938. 75th Anniversary of the Battle. Aged Union And Confederate Veterans Shaking Hands For The Final Time Across The Stone Wall.
Honoring The Confederate Dead.
Honoring The Union Dead.
Union Soldier's Graves.
Confederate Soldier's Graves.
Joint Reburial of Union and Confederate Dead.
USCT Reenactors Rifle Salute.
CSA Reenactors Uncovered To Honor The Dead.
Reenactors Praying.
Heritage, History, And Memory.
Two American Banners: One Honoring The United States, The Other Southern Cultural Identity.

         In Honor And In Memory Of Those Who Wore The Confederate Gray And The Union Blue.

We Will Never Forget.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Planetary Photography - 04-04-2016 - Easter Full Moon!

These are three of the photos I took of the First Full Moon of spring, 2015. I managed to get a good shot of the moon over the Chester First Baptist Church and the glowing cross, which I found appropriate since it was Easter weekend. 

I hope y'all enjoy them.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Day Trip To Greenville, SC. Part Two - The Greenville Zoo

After leaving the TD Convention Center and SC Comic Con 2015  behind, I went to a nearby Waffle House to refuel and then made my way over to the beautiful Greenville Zoo.

While the Greenville Zoo may not be as large as the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, SC, I was taken with how clean and well maintained it was, particularly the Reptile House. There was plenty of shade for the animals, and their habitats were cared for professionally. The gift shop was also wonderful and I found a nifty Christmas tree ornament to go with my collection.

The only complain I have about the place was the limited parking for both the zoo and the nearby park. It took about half an hour of circling before I could finally locate a parking space, so I would recommend any potential visitors to arrive earlier in the morning, possibly before 11 AM or so. Other than that, I had a wonderful time viewing the amazing animals on display.

The following are photos taken from my two hour afternoon stay at the Greenville Zoo. 

Please enjoy.

Following my trip to the zoo, I bid a good afternoon to the city of Greenville, SC and took the hour and a half drive back to Chester County. 

Between the SC Comic Con and the Greenville Zoo, I have to say it was an afternoon well spent.