“Those that can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
Walking into the Museum and Library of Confederate history I was unsure of what to expect. Being raised in the South I thought I knew what the war was about and there wasn’t much else for me to be told. I even thought for a moment while walking into the building that I would be confronted by someone filled with Caucasian pride, ready to fill my head with nonsense. But, that was not the case.
Entering the museum I was greeted with education, and an eyeopening experience. Lined above the hallway decorated with antiqued, framed photographs were numerous versions of the confederate flag. Some of the versions that I was looking at were the first I had ever seen them displayed.
The common and most popular “Confederate” flag wasn’t the Confederate flag at all. The common red flag with a blue “X” lined with stars is actually the Battle Flag. The Confederate National flag was actually white with the battle flag placed in the upper left corner. After the National flag was misinterpreted as a surrender flag, the right end was given a red bar from top to bottom so that it could no longer be misconceived.
The museum is a literal time capsule from our history. Many weapons lined the wall allowing you to see the progression that man has made over the years. From bullets to bombs it is intriguing to see what stood between safety and death for so many soldiers. Several different cannons are on display to remind you of how strenuous it was to be a soldier in the past. In various corners stand uniforms that were, for many, the last thing that soldiers ever wore.
Works of art and display cases hide the walls that support them. Miniatures of Fort Sumter and of Confederate Naval ships allow for a three dimensional experience of items too large for the museum. There is also a side room that gives an example of life in that period which is equipped with clothes, a table, and a chamber pot with the face of Union Major General Butler at the bottom, which became common after he issued the “Woman’s Order” to disrepect Southern Women.
One side room is filled with display cases that offer a look at Confederate money. Aside from dollar amounts the cases showcase paper slips for currency amounts that are represented with coins today. The eerie fact that haunts the room is how, overnight, paper currency can lose its value forever.
One wall is dedicated to the remembrance of the medical practices of the era. A Stethoscope, bone saw, and a metal rod made for finding bullets within wounds are several of the numerous tools that can be studied.
Besides having a library on hand in the building many sections come with information sheets that the spectator can have and read for their own personal information. Below the flags in the main hallway are racks with numerous fact sheets that can be taken home and fact checked through personal research.
Before leaving I was able to sit down inside the library and converse with a group of men, filled with knowledge. As I asked questions and answers were given, I started to form an opinion. In my ignorance I felt that slavery was the issue of the war, but I soon realized that it was only a side note. Slavery was a political ploy to stave off help for the Confederacy from European nations.
The true problem for the Confederate states was the taxation being placed on them and the allocation of their money to fund projects in the North. The South wanted to govern themselves and see that their wealth was distributed fairly.
I started this article out with a quote. The reason I used this quote was because history does repeat itself. Just as President Lincoln’s office used slavery as a distraction technique to disguise from the real problem, President Obama’s office uses racism to distract from the agendas of today. It is easier to get the people behind a humanitarian issue than it is to get the people behind a political one. Like a magician’s act, the trick is to get you to focus on the right hand while the left hand is performing the trick.
I see similarities in the fights of old and today with the state’s united in the fight against Obamacare while Obamacare is being declared a “tax” on the American people. Unjust and unfair treatment can split a partnership, a community, and it can split a nation. While we can learn from the past, the museum shows us how many lives were taken through war as brother was pitted against brother. Our hope now is to educate and pray so that political greed will never leave another black cloud over our proud nation again.