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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile’

I was eight years old, curled up on the naugahyde sofa in my grandmother’s basement, when I found my great-grandmother’s copy of Gone with the Wind, the commemorative movie edition.   I read it literally to pieces and I can recite the entire first paragraph by heart.

gone with the wind cover

In grade school I was taught that the Civil War, to my surprise at the time, was NOT inspired primarily by the desire to continue to enslave African-Americans, but by an argument over States’ Rights.

My great-great-great-grandfather was a Confederate brigadier general, and I was raised on family legends of his valor.

Col. James Hagan

My ggggrandfather Confederate General James D. Hagan, who was born in Ireland.

Up until my house burned down, I owned a small Confederate battle flag, which at one time I displayed along with the flags of the United States, Scotland, and Ireland, a small tribute to my ethnic heritage as I understood it at the time.

This is where I come from.  I am proud to be a Southerner.  In my blog bio, I describe myself first of all as “Catholic and Southern.”  That’s at the core of who I am.

Like many Southerners, particularly those with ancestors who served in the Confederate army, I feel an attachment to statues like the one in Charlottesville.  But the character of those who rallied on Saturday in protest prove that its removal is necessary.  This confederacy of dunces would have been denounced by General Lee, who was not even in favor of secession, and by James Hagan, who was repatriated and worked for the U.S. government for the fifteen years prior to his death.

Emily on the General's Grave

My oldest child, Emily, at the grave of her great-great-great-great-grandfather, General James D. Hagan

 

As his descendant, I disavow and repudiate the Unite the Right protesters and anyone who shares their hateful beliefs in the strongest of terms, and I call upon all descendants of Confederate soldiers to join me in condemning them.  They don’t represent the South and we don’t need these modern-day Carpetbaggers to tell us how best to preserve our heritage.

We do no honor to the memory of the Confederate dead by supporting disgusting displays of racism.  I do not judge my ancestors as harshly as some might– they were the product of a different time.  But that time is long past.  If you feel that Robert E. Lee deserves to be honored and remembered for valiantly fighting for what he believed in–his home state of Virginia–then do what he asked after the fighting ended: “Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.

 

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We took a whirlwind trip to Mobile, Alabama last weekend.  It was our last Family Weekend at Spring Hill College–Emily will graduate in May.  For the last four Octobers we’ve made (or some of us have, depending on who was available–I’m the only one who’s made all four) the 500 mile drive to spend some time with Emily, have fun at the events on campus, and explore a little bit of Mobile.

I’ve written about my family connection to Mobile before–it had kind of a mythical allure to me growing up, that place we came from.  My great-grandmother was born there, then migrated to Tennessee with her husband (whose family was from Kentucky).  My grandmother made frequent visits throughout her life, spending summers at the family home on the bay with cousins, bringing her own children for visits, and even into her later years heading down to see family and coming home with crabmeat to make gumbo.  So we were thrilled that Emily chose to go to school there, and welcomed the opportunity to get to know the area a little more on each of our visits.

This time around, besides enjoying seafood at Wintzell’s Oyster House and the Mariner (my favorite, that Emily and I discovered on my first visit there with her), out in the middle of nowhere (William loves it because of all the cats that live outside, fed by the owners on leftover seafood!), we went to see the USS Alabama.  This is something John had been wanting to do from our first visit.  I would never have thought of doing it myself, but WOW.

 

Talk about big guns!

 

We wandered the whole ship, above and below decks, and William especially was enthralled.

Afterwards, we had to make a stop at Magnolia Cemetery.  My great-great-great grandfather, a Confederate General, is buried there, and Emily wanted to recap the picture I took of her there four years ago.  Plus we all just love cemeteries, and this is a pretty cool one.

Emily on the gravestone of General James D. Hagan, her great-great-great-great grandfather.

 

Our trip did not have the best ending, what with our car starting to shake as though possessed, necessitating $500 worth of repairs and a six hour delay in leaving on Sunday while those were effected, but since we’ve had somewhat worse endings to vacations in the past, I’ll take it.

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