My vision of revision

Recently I was listening to a person I respect on many fronts, about how there are those in power trying to push revisionism of history. To me, southern boy and Virginian born guy that I am, I don’t think there is a revisionism movement, just an effort to put the truth about how our country developed in perspective. No person who fought on the South’s side in the Civil War should be considered a hero.

It wasn’t always this way for me.

4th grade had me going to school in Arlington, Virginia. I learned all about Robert E. Lee and how conflicted he was to side against the Union during the civil war. First and foremost, I learned he was gentleman and had been caught in a tough situation. Stonewall Jackson was another hero to us. To be honest, my early education had me feel sorry for the South losing the war to some degree.

I guarantee, I wasn’t the only kid who felt this way in my class.

My grandmother on my father’s side would have been ecstatic to learn of my sympathy for Old Dixie. She died pretty much thinking the South didn’t really lose. My father was a product of his upbringing and thought the white race was superior to all others. He was a smart man, but for years he could not accept a black person as equal to a white person. Eventually he did change to a point, but he made it clear until he died, my sister could never come home married to a black man or have a mixed race child. If she did, she would be out of his life.

Sort of funny, he never gave me that stipulation.

Probably because it was unfathomable that his only son would ever put him in that position. Maybe he thought my sister was more of a rebel so he felt compelled to make this feeling known to her.

If only he knew.

What he failed to understand, somehow I was color blind to people’s skin color. My mother influenced me growing up to be colorblind, which is interesting, since her father was very much a racist living in Alabama.

I told you, I have tons of southern blood running through my veins.

I do try to understand why some Americans feel there is revisionist plot afoot even though I don’t see it. This country made bad mistakes and it did great things in its young history.

Why would our educational system not teach both the good and the bad?

It just makes sense to me. Being honest about our bad moments as a new country is not about trying to degrade our country’s history to future generations. It is truly about being honest.

I am not responsible for how my grandparents acted nor my ancestors, nor is anybody else. That is just a reality. I never asked, but it is really possible my forefathers were slave owners on both sides. Yet I have little toleration for people that try and make me feel guilty of my predecessor’s past sins. I am not them.

Still, I don’t want any dark history forgotten or glorified.

As I pondered why I am like this, I came to the conclusion it isn’t because of political beliefs or anything like that. It is because I have been lucky in life to have a lot of friends who came from different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds.

It started early too.

My 4th grade best friend in Arlington was black. That fact did not go over well with my father at all. For my 5th grade year, we moved to Maryland and my father made sure it was to an all white neighborhood.

That worked for a few grades, because like our neighborhood, my elementary school was all white.

Junior high was different.

There were black students and I got along with quite a lot of kids that were different colors. My first kiss that happened in 8th grade was with a black girl.

I don’t think I ever told my father this, not because I was scared to, it just never occurred to me that it was any big deal to mention she was black.

When I was in 9th grade, my sister reminds me it was a group of black girls who showed me how to dance. They did a decent job, because in my early years of hitting nightclubs, I won a couple dance contests with a few different ladies as partners.

I have to say, that was pretty cool.

I don’t ever remember being intimidated about being on a dance floor and overseas that helped me tons, whether I was in Europe, Asia or Australia.

I could do a whole column on nightclub culture and probably sometime I will.

One thing about being exposed to these different cultures, America is not the only country to have made mistakes in history.

In Australia there is more acknowledgement of how the government mistreated aborigines as it became a nation, although there are plenty of Australians who feel aborigines brought it on themselves.

I have talked to many a white South African who feel their country has gone on a slide since Apartheid was dismantled. Some don’t even want to discuss a black being their equal.

In a few countries in Europe, I heard from locals, about immigrants from Africa and the Middle East ruining their country.

In China, there is little or no discussion of the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward under Mao-Tse-Sung where millions died or were tortured. China almost never makes mistakes according to their government. The people dare not question what the government says is the truth. I have experienced this attitude firsthand living in Shanghai and Beijing, and the truth is constantly changed to fit the needs of the government.

Talk about revisionist.

That is all the more reason to me, we make sure our country acknowledges our warts and blemishes along with what we do well.

To me, America is a wonderful place that I am proud to call my home.

Recently I was in Medicine Bow at a track watching Mud Drags. The event is held on the old rodeo grounds and is truly breathtaking vista when looking out at the horizon. While observing the American and Wyoming flags were waving in the wind as the Star-Spangled-Banner was broadcast, I remember thinking to myself how magnificent it was to be an American and how lucky I was to live here.

I don’t take being an American for granted at all and I am proud when we correct our mistakes of the past. It is what makes us special, because there are many nations in the world that are not like this. They can never admit to their mistakes.

I can’t help but believe there isn’t a revision plot going on, but actually an attempt to give history a shot in the arm of truth, even if it is painful. I don’t expect everyone to think like I do, because my life experiences are unique to me.

I will continue to listen to people who believe differently than myself and I hope to appreciate their concerns are because they love this country just as much as I do.

I don’t deny this can be hard, especially in this age of mistrust that our political parties seem to put forth on any person who disagrees with their status quo.

That is sad.

It is when we stop listening to a person because he or she doesn’t agree with a point of view, we as Americans, do a disservice to ourselves and our country.

It is when we come together as we have proven in the past we can, this nation shines.


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