Recently, I have been watching Gettysburg and its prequel Gods and Generals on DVD while at the same time, I have been reading the books on which these movies were based. In case you didn’t know, the movie Gettysburg was directed by Ron Maxwell and written by Michael Shaara and was called Killer Angels. Michael had died in 1988, but the movie was produced in 1993. Several years later, Michael’s son Jeff decided to write a prequel (Gods and Generals-in 1996) and a sequel (The Last Full Measure-1998). These books too were made into movies.
Gettysburg and the other two books were, of course, all about the individuals who participated in the American Civil War. What I especially like about the books and movies is idea of getting inside their heads and understanding the war from each participant’s viewpoint.
One of the participants in the movie was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a professor turned colonel. He grew up in Maine and was well acquainted with the abolitionist movement and he is in the war to free the slaves.
Another participant is Robert E. Lee. His primary reason for being the commanding officer of the Confederate army was that he was fighting because the United States was sending troops against other American States and he felt that was morally wrong.
In scene in Gettysburg, Thomas Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence’s younger brother was talking with two rebel prisoners and they asked him why he was fighting the war. He said. “to free the Negro, of course.” One of the rebels stated what he was fighting for had nothing to do with the ‘darkies’ (as he called them) but that he was fighting for his rights.
At the same time that I have been watching the movies and reading the books, there has been that issue in Charleston concerning the Rebel flag and that it is being taken down because of how it offends many African Americans.
The removal of the rebel flag from the courthouse in Charleston was prompted by the incident where nine black church members were killed by a white gunman who allegedly expressed racist sentiments. The massacre prompted many in the state to question whether the flag’s presence on public property delivered a not-so-subtle message of bigotry. It led to permanently taking down the rebel flag that hung over the Charleston Court House.
I have to wonder if this symbol doesn’t represent something else that many of us Americans value–our civil rights.
Before I get any hate comments about what I am about to say, I just want to say that I believe that slavery is wrong and that none of my immediate ancestors were slave owners. All of my ancestors lived in the North or still lived in Europe at the time. There is evidence (though circumstantial) that some of them may have been conductors on the Underground Railroad. Racial slurs make me cringe and I am against bigotry.
That said, I can understand why after over 150 years, people still cling to the Rebel flag. To them, it more than represents the old south that supported slavery. The rebel flag represents to them the ideas that our founding fathers had concerning not only States’ rights, but individual rights as well. Over the years as our government has become more and more centralized, States have lost many of the powers that they have had to govern themselves as they saw fit. Many now fear that centralized government will give way to something that they feel is even more sinister, globalized government.
In authoring and publishing my books the way I do, I can identify with the Rebel flag’s standard bearer. As a self-published author, I too like my freedom and I like the fact that I can do as I see fit when I publish my work. I don’t have anyone else telling me how to write what I write. I write the stories that I want to tell. I get to keep most of what I earn when I write and I like that. I want to keep those rights as long as possible.
Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. Her upcoming book A Coward’s Solace will be available soon. Click here for more information about Cygnet Brown and her books.