Memory › How We Remember (The WPA Pavilions)
Intro .

We all want to have heroes, the noble and resilient under fire standing-for-something. I want to have heroes, unblemished, honorable, without any of the inevitable flaws. I search out the heroic. I watched the HBO series Band of Brothers more times than I can recall. I would go back to it when I was feeling let down by people, the world, my country. The incredible journey of “Easy” Company of the 506 Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne, that began at a deep South training base near Toccoa, Georgia, went into action on D-Day and ended in Austria on VE-Day is epic. I can hold up their story and say all of these things: theirs was a noble cause, they were a tough resilient lot, what they did was honorable and it stood for something. But can I say that all of the members of Easy Company, or more fairly, that all Americans within the Allied Expeditionary Force fighting against facism were without flaws? Of course not. None of us are, or ever have been. For all the noble, honorable and just reasons that Americans fought and helped win World War II, the effort itself was staged in a way that did not undermine or hardly question the segregated nature of Jim Crow America. It was, instead, exported alongside the war effort overseas. That should and must be acknowledged. . . . Still, what that particular group of paratroopers and so many other American soldiers did during World War II was fight for freedom and the idea of a free world. It was a collective action for the cause of self-determination. That is noble. That is honorable.

Many have said that the soldiers of the Southern Confederacy fought for home and hearth, that they fought for their “rights.” Many have stressed how they served with valor and toughness. There is no question that as a group Confederate soldiers were very tough, put up with more, sacrificed more and as often served faithfully. But to attach honor to what they fought for evades hard obvious truth, and does so in the name of simply wanting to have heroes. Despite all the toughness, the unquestionable courage and bravery under fire, the faithful service, it does damage to the present and future truth to call them anything but wrong. Heroes must fall on the right side of history in their moment. If individuals lack the decency to recognize other humans as human, and then fight in a cause devoted to that notion, valor is not enough to bridge the gap between service faithfully executed and honor.

And yet, for so long that was not at all an acceptable theme. Glory, valor, even honor had applied equally and with hardly a question to the soldiers on both sides of the war—Americans, all—for over a century. Memory would be the only thing truly reconstructed throughout the South in the wake of the Civil War. Memory would not be a slave to facts, but only that which supported a more heroic and honorable narrative. We would have our heroes, even if we had to lie through our teeth.

Ghost On The Hill: Gettysburg NMP / The Angle

A Work In Progress . . .