Could this be the beginning of the end for Civil War Weekend?
Growing up in West Virginia, one of my favorite summertime pastimes was a game of pick-up baseball.
Usually no one person had all the bats, balls and gloves we needed, so it was necessary for everyone to bring what they had and we shared.
What usually happened was that about half way through the game somebody would get mad, take whatever equipment they brought and leave.
Despite that setback, we’d continue to play, or find another game in which to participate. The point being, we never gave up due to diversity.
Fast forward several decades and we have a similar situation today.
By now most everybody knows that the Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy have withdrawn from the upcoming Civil War Weekend in Suffolk.
Lee Hart III, speaking on behalf of both groups, said the decision was made after Mayor Bobby Ralph declined to sign a proclamation designating April as Confederate History and Heritage Month in the city.
And, according to Hart, it wasn’t the fact that Ralph didn’t affix his signature to the document, it was that he had told the groups he would do it and then reneged. The mayor denies that, saying he never made any such verbal promise.
But wait a minute. Didn’t the Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy agree to participate in the Civil War Weekend?
And I don’t remember them ever saying they would only do so if the mayor signed the proclamation.
And now, just like they say the mayor has done, they have reneged on their promise.
In essence, they took whatever equipment they brought to the ballfield and went home.
But for what? What do they really hope to accomplish from this?
Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy are both fine organizations, whose members are truly dedicated to &uot;insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.&uot;
And they have been an integral part of Civil War Weekend in the past.
But now they have chosen not to participate, to stay home instead.
Just like those days so many years ago, the game will go on with the players who remain.
In his statement, published in the March 29 edition of this newspaper, Hart wrote, &uot;The time has come that we not further embarrass the City of Suffolk or Mayor Ralph with our involvement or support.&uot;
What they are doing, and don’t seem to understand, is putting the first nail in the Civil War Weekend coffin.
Civil War Weekend has more than just local appeal. People come from all over to visit the event and our great city.
But will they continue to come if all they see and read about is controversy?
If Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy are truly dedicated to preserving the history of this city, and I believe they are, they should reconsider and join the others at this year’s event.
I once had a publisher, who, when I would bring a problem to him, would ask me if it was the &uot;hill I wanted to die on.&uot; In other words, was this particular situation the one into which I wanted to put all my efforts, and the one that may define my career in journalism?
Well, as for this proclamation, I ask, &uot;Is this the hill that Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy want to die on?&uot;
Somebody needs to take the high road here and let bygones be bygones. Put this squabbling behind you and put on those uniforms, saddle up the horses, load up those wagons and show up on Prentis Street Saturday morning.
This is an opportunity for the Tom Smith Camp No. 1702, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Daughters of the Confederacy to continue their good work in preserving our history and helping us understand who we are and where we have been.
By not participating, the only thing you are doing in the way of educating – particularly for our young residents – is to show them that if things don’t go your way, just quit.
I don’t think you really want to quit something in which you believe so strongly.
Grant is the managing editor of the News-Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley McKnight-Taylor Sons of Confederate Veterans or no, proclamation or no, Civil War Weekend kicked off yesterday with bright, windy... read more