LITTLE BY LITTLE
By Matthew Little
Yes! It was April 12, 1861 (exactly 150 years ago) when America suffered its one and only combat defeat — although it was only temporary and did not come from a superior outside power. You probably have suspected by now that my reference is to the Civil War of 1861.
Also, it might be mentioned that unlike most wars, the battle was not over land or other material gains. Instead, the battle was, in a sense, about us — or at least that’s what it turned out to be.
The only tangible results coming from the Civil War was the freeing of the slaves. Yet, as strange as it seems, the celebration looms larger on the calendar of the South than any in other section of the country.
April 12 slipped by almost completely unnoticed except in South Carolina, where the war began when Southern troops fired on “Yankee” troops stationed on Fort Sumter, a small island located in Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. Other Southern troops hastily came to the support of the South Carolinian troops, and before we knew it we had a full-scale war on our hands between troops of the same nativity.
After 150 years, the rest of the country seems willing to just forget about that war as a bad dream. It seems as if the South, however, would be willing to have this celebration next to Christmas in importance, notwithstanding the fact that they were the ultimate losers.
Special effort was given to organizing this celebration as an event of special historic significance. It had taken four years of preparation, and experts from across the country had been imported for authenticity.
Several hundred people gathered on the Charleston battery at four am to watch as a brass ensemble played a concert of Southern hymns. Confederate re-enactors fired an authentic 1847 mortar that prompted the firing of many other cannons, lighting up the harbor as it appeared 150 years ago.
Conspicuous by their absence from the gala reception were people of color. About 200 miles north is the city of Greenville, S.C., where the NAACP held a gathering at one of the Black churches. The chosen main speaker was Jessie Jackson, a native son of Greenville.
At the White House, President Obama dutifully issued a proclamation stating in part, “We are the United States of America — we have been tested, we have repaired our union, and we have emerged stronger, and the institution of slavery would be forever abolished from our land.”
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.