Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, May 28, 2018


A fleeting moment of celebration

by Tom Sullivan

Hampton Park, Charleston, SC

The U.S. flag that went out first thing this morning has already come in out of the rain. Memorial Day parades in places across the Southeast will be soggy.

The Washington Post's Editorial Board remembers how the parade along the Champs-Elysees after the liberation of Paris in 1944 was merely a fleeting moment of celebration for troops who would die on the march east to Berlin:

In a democratic country, it takes a deep and widespread sense of obligation to wage that sort of struggle. People can be, and were, compelled to serve, but there are limits to what a decent government can do to enforce compliance with its laws — especially by those who are morally opposed to killing or even, as in one famous Supreme Court case, to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In the end, the vital component of a free people’s defense is a sense of obligation, set forth at the U.S. Military Academy but understood by all who serve: Duty. Honor. Country. These are not Twitter words. They are engraved in our national consciousness.
For others they have become shibboleths of tribal loyalty, words used to identify friend from foe among kinsmen.

I was already considering republishing an account of my visit to the site of what Yale historian David W. Blight considers the first Memorial Day parade. The Post notes it as well:
It came on May 1, 1865, less than a month after the surrender at Appomattox, when thousands of former slaves and other African Americans in Charleston, S.C., pooled their efforts to give proper burial to several hundred Union soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war at a racetrack and had died there under atrocious conditions. The field was covered with flowers for the occasion, and schoolchildren and women’s groups marched and sang patriotic songs, including “We’ll Rally Round the Flag” and, of course, the national anthem. It was a spectacular display of love of country, and of hope for the future.

“They were themselves the true patriots,” writes Mr. Blight. But, he adds, “Despite the size and some newspaper coverage of the event, its memory was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day. From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished.”
We visited on New Year's Day 2016 after stopping by Mother Emanuel AME Church, site of the recent mass shooting, where slave revolt leader Denmark Vesey once preached.

I wrote then:
Sunday morning we happened to drive by The Citadel, removed from the business district and off the usual tourist track. I had never been in that quadrant of the city before, but remembered a recent blog post that explained how Memorial Day had its origins in Charleston in a spot just east of the military college. Of course, we went looking for it:

... During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

The fallen were later moved, most to a national cemetery in Beaufort, S.C. The race track became a city park named after Confederate General (and later governor) Wade Hampton III. An historic marker commemorating this first Memorial Day was installed in just 2010. Wherever it was, we missed seeing it. Even reading a photo carefully (go do it now), one can easily miss that the majority of participants were former slaves. You have to know your history and read between the lines. At a time when news agencies cannot bring themselves to mention that the armed, Bundy insurrectionists in Oregon are white (or nearly all) or refer to them as anything more dangerous than "activists" or "occupiers," on this coast even a five year-old historical marker in a gentrifying, heavily black city tiptoes around the fact that the honorable actions it commemorates were performed by black, former slaves.

Then again, newer, more prominent, and a surprise was the statue below, installed at Hampton Park just two years ago. Unlike the other marker, the statue's base provides a clear background to who Denmark Vesey was and why he has found a place in Hampton Park:

* * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.