(January 12, 2020) As this New York Times article documents, Southerners are more likely to volunteer for military service. Those “who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities” close to military bases like Colorado Springs. “The South . . . produces 20 percent more recruits than would be expected, based on its youth population. The states in the Northeast . . . produce 20 percent fewer. Fayetteville, N.C. . . . provided more than twice as many military enlistment contracts as Manhattan, even though Manhattan has eight times as many people.” Contrary to the politically correct expectations “African-Americans are [only] slightly more likely to serve.” Since the draft was abolished in the 1970s, Southerners have been more likely to volunteer. Their eagerness to defend America despite having ancestors in the Confederate Army may be one reason that the Army retains the names of ten military bases after Confederate generals.
Perhaps because she comes from the volunteer-deficient Northeast, Democrat New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke introduced a bill in 2017 to require the Defense Department to change all ten names. Co-sponsor Congresswoman Grace Meng is also a New York Democrat. During a 2012 television interview, Clarke said that if she had a magic wish and could go back in time to 1898 she would have abolished slavery in Brooklyn. She apparently did no realize that American slavery had ended thirty-three years earlier. During her initial congressional election in 2006, Clarke claimed to be an Oberlin College graduate, but newspaper investigators discovered that she never graduated. Nonetheless, she got 90% of the vote against her Republican opponent.
Since today’s Army is disproportionately dependent upon the South for volunteers, the congressladies might consider the advantages of retaining the names to inspire enlistments in the region. According to Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, Confederate solders merit such inspiration.
The myth of Johnny Reb as the greatest infantryman happens to be true. Not only the courage and combat skill, but the sheer endurance of the Confederate foot soldier may have been equaled in a few other armies over the millennia, but none could claim the least superiority. . . [T]he physical toughness, fighting ability and raw determination of those men remains astonishing.
The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of bravery, not slavery. I’m a Yankee, born and bred, and my personal sympathies lie with the Northern cause . . . To me, though, that red flag with the blue St. Andrews cross strewn with white stars does not symbolize slavery—that’s nonsense—but the stunning bravery of those who fought beneath it.”
Confederate soldiers may have inspired Southerner volunteers in twentieth century wars. Tennessee’s Alvin York was America’s most famous infantryman in World War I. Although his grandfather was a Union deserter, two of his grand-uncles sided with the Confederacy. Texan Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II. In Vietnam, Arkansas sniper Carlos Hathcock killed more enemy than anyone and even put a bullet in the eye of an opposing sniper through the foe’s telescopic sight. (Steven Spielberg theatrically copied this in his Saving Private Ryan movie.) Each man was born into the grinding poverty that typified much of the South for a century after the Civil War. As boys they hunted game for food, not sport.
During World War II, the first American flag to fly over the captured Japanese fortress at Okinawa was a Confederate Battle Flag. A marine company put there to honor their commander—that happened to be a South Carolinian—who suffered a paralyzing wound in the victorious assault. Some of the tank crews that freed prisoners from German concentration camps also flew the Confederate Battle Flag.
Perhaps readers can see the merits of retaining Confederate memorials in America, unlike The Washington Post that wants them destroyed while seeking to protect Iranian cultural sites regardless of that country’s future conduct.
Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:
The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh