A Confederate General’s Great-great-great-granddaughter Speaks Out

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.

My Name's Not Mom

Just a mini-rant here . . . does everyone else hate it as much as I do when you are sitting in the pediatrician’s office waiting with your kid and the nurse walks in and says, “Are you mom?”  I want to scream!  I want to say, “No, I am not mom, I am Mrs. Sholly to you.”
I’m sitting here in our home office right now listening while my husband participates in a Child and Family Team Meeting by phone for one of his clients in Juvenile Court.  The mother in the case is present, and all the people at the meeting keep addressing her as “Mom.”  It’s SO disrespectful.  Every time I hear it I want to scream on her behalf.  They know her name; why can’t they use it?
My little kids have an awesome dentist whom I like for all sorts of reasons, but one that really stands out is that on the first day I met him, he walked into the office, stuck out his hand, and said, “Hi, my name is Drew.”  It’s pathetic that it’s no rare for a doctor to do this that it’s worthy of comment.
What about you?  Does this irritate you?  Do you say anything or just let it slide?

Madonna is AWESOME

I think I may have just discovered a new way to measure the generation gap–just ask your friends what they thought about Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show last night.
I don’t watch the Super Bowl because I’m not interested in professional football, and I had never seen (seriously) a halftime show before last night, so I can’t compare it to anything. but I thought it was AWESOME.  I was absolutely shocked to read some of the comments made by my Facebook friends who are (I suspect) slightly/a lot younger than I..
“Lucky Star” came out in 1983, when I was 16.  It was the third song released from Madonna’s debut album, but it’s the first on I remember hearing and liking on the radio.  I can actually remember wondering who the singer was.  And that’s just about when MTV went live (newsflash to you youngsters out there:  they showed videos then!) and I remember watching her “Borderline” video.  I remember being horrified and embarrassed (can they really play this on the radio? I remember wondering) when I first heard “Like a Virgin.”

So Madonna provided a lot of the soundtrack for my high school experience.  And my enthusiasm for her music grew when I was in college.  My roommate and I and our friend Tom used to dance to “Get into the Groove” as part of our pre-exam good luck ritual when we were freshmen.   I loved her “True Blue” stage.  I remember Tom and me ditching our summer bed-making toilet-cleaning  job to stand at the payphone calling over and over again to get tickets to her concert in the summer of 1987.  My God, that concert was 25 years ago but I remember it well–RFK Stadium with Madonna so far away she looked like a dancing doll on the stage.

As the years went by, Madonna continued to inspire, shock, and sometimes annoy. I’m not a big fan of blasphemy, for example.  But she was always talented, always original.  Her ability to reinvent herself instead of sticking to the tried and true is innovative and amazing and has kept her fresh for all these years.
One of my favorite television moments was seeing Madonna on “The David Letterman Show,” chiding Dave because he had not yet married the mother of his son.  Madonna? Recommending a conventional relationship?  It was surreal.  But just like the rest of us, Madonna got older, had kids, maybe grew up just a little bit.
And, hello, the woman is 53.  Fifty-freaking-three, and she just appeared in thigh high boots and a mini-skirt (no fat, no wobbles).  She danced for 15 minutes without getting out of breath.  She did all these deep knee bending moves and didn’t need to hold on to something to stand back up.  She turned CARTWHEELS.  I read comments saying that she danced like someone’s mother, that she looked old and slow, that it was sad to watch her.  The only thing I thought was sad about her performance is that she’s nine years older than I am and she looks a hell of a lot younger.