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How Northerners Think Of The Civil War


Carol in Cal.
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I grew up in the North and then moved South. It is a completely different culture concerning the War. It was all very odd to me and my family. It is very odd to me still. The first day at the bus stop I was told to go home dam* yankee! I was 12! I thought they were talking about the New York Yankees! 

 

 

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The bolded doesn't make sense to me.  "Global History?"  "Regents Diploma?"

 

In a very large number of US schools, controversial subjects DO require a permission slip.  Regardless of what happens in the public school curriculum where YOU are...there absolutely are a very large number of schools that require a permission slip just to read Harry Potter books.  There ARE a very large number of schools that require a parent permission slip to have their middle school students attend even one single 1hr sex ed class. 

 

 

It's absolutely true that museums, interpretive centers, etc, can make history "come alive." 

 

Being the in a place is nearly always a whole other experience than learning about it in a museum.  Just like dissections are a whole other experience than looking at diagrams in a book.  Or Monday is going to be a WHOLE other experience than reading about a solar eclipse in a book. 

 

I agree and disagree. Museums can do a very good job of passing along the message. There is a an amazing Holocaust Museum in downtown Richmond, VA of all places. Before we were married, DH and I went there.

 

The route the museum took was to have you in your home, trying to escape the Nazis. You crawled into your basement storage room, in dim light. Shouts are heard outside the home. You slip behind a hidden door and the lights flicker, thunderous footsteps are heard above, dust falls, and more shouting. Then there is rapid gun fire.

 

I kid you not. I almost peed my pants. I was absolutely scared $hitle$$. Nearly in tears and trembling - it was SO real. You climb out in a crawling position to the sound of shots and machine gun fire. Bright lights and sirens. That cannot be recreated in real life.

 

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I am having my DD read history books written for middle/high school students in different (English speaking or have textbooks published in English as one option) countries for their schools. So far, she's done Great Britain, Australia, and India, and is currently working on Canada. It's been a learning experience, to say the least. I chose to do that because she has to do US history and Gpvernmenf to graduate from high school, and having gone to school in VA, I swear I did US colonization to about reconstruction, with a brief run through mentioning a few key points after that practically every year from 4th grade to high school, with one year of US government thrown in. We did more later US history in English class via "All Quiet on the Western Front", "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "Night" than in history. I took US history from 1812 in college and finally got to flesh out that time period. I didn't want her to have that same experience.

 

What she has found is that all other countries, so far, have been a) willing to admit that their leaders made mistakes, and lots of them and that b) their country is not always on the right side of history. There is a significant effort to recognize atrocities committed and to make sure that it won't happen again.

 

And at least in the Galore Park British history, the US Revolution is maybe a paragraph or two jammed in with other colonial revolutions. India got a lot more attention than the US did. We're just a tiny blip in British history.

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My dh works in the NE and the Civil War is often brought up by the Northerners he works with.  Why, I have no idea.  I don't remember ever discussing it in the South when I was growing up.  Maybe it is now, I don't know.  But dh was recently in a men's Bible study, of all places, here in NE, and they spent the better part of 1.5 hours talking about the Civil War.  I asked dh what he was doing.  He said 'Mostly just listening'.  But from what he described, there seemed to be some baiting going on - trying to get a reaction out of him.  In the end, I think he pointed out a few facts they had wrong, and then let it go.  And dh loves a good argument/debate, but he sensed this was a losing battle because there seemed to be a lot of 'shared ignorance' going on.

 

 

Does he have a Southern accent?  It's the only reason I could think it would even occur to them to bait him about the Civil War.   Does he work in a field where people often discuss History, particularly military history?

 

I've lived in the Northeast my entire life except 3 semesters of college in Texas and I have never had a discussion of the Civil War with anyone outside of a classroom.   The Revolutionary War seems to be a much bigger deal around here (I'm not far from Morristown which was a big Revolutionary War site), but even that doesn't come up unless we are discussing going to one of the reenactments they hold a few times a year or visiting Washington's Headquarters.   I have friends and acquaintances from all over the country (plus other countries) so different accents aren't unusual. 

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Well, clearly some do, because I see Confederate flags in the north all the time. Oh, wait, maybe it's not really about the Civil War. Maybe it's a thinly veiled message about something else. Gee, what could it be...

 

Sigh.

If you were to drive through Southern Indiana (south of Bloomington) you could easily mistake it for the Deep South because of all the flags on porches, bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, vanity plates (in the front, we are only required to have rear state plates) and picnic blankets.  

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I've never heard of the Civil War called the War of Northern Aggression. My fathers side has deep roots in the south and there must have been plenty of family who fought for the Confederacy, but interestingly the only thing that I have that survived is a memoir from a great (+) aunt. In it she describes the greatest horror and fear not of the Union soldiers but of gangs of renegade southern thugs. They burned crops, robbed their neighbors, and were terribly vicious. She describes the utter lawlessness and danger these "fellow southern countrymen" imposed. It's quite a history--in her own words--and one I doubt anyone learns about in any history class.

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If you were to drive through Southern Indiana (south of Bloomington) you could easily mistake it for the Deep South because of all the flags on porches, bumper stickers, t-shirts, tattoos, vanity plates (in the front, we are only required to have rear state plates) and picnic blankets.  

 

I think the people in this thread who are saying they've never seen the Confederate battle flag much in the north have either only been in cities and suburbs or are just blind to it, because it doesn't raise their ire or offend them or whatever. It's there. I know that there was a fight to keep the Confederate flag out of a NY county fair this year. It's just everywhere.

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I think the people in this thread who are saying they've never seen the Confederate battle flag much in the north have either only been in cities and suburbs or are just blind to it, because it doesn't raise their ire or offend them or whatever. It's there. I know that there was a fight to keep the Confederate flag out of a NY county fair this year. It's just everywhere.

 

Nope, I've lived in rural areas for the majority of my life. The confederate flag is just not a thing here in my corner of the midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin).

 

And no, I'm not blind to it. If I saw someone flying a confederate flag, I would notice it immediately because it would be so unusual.

 

I've also lived in cities in the the midwest and northeast and didn't see any confederate flags there, either.

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I'm in Michigan, right outside Detroit. I see the flag all the time. Mostly on shirts and hanging in windows. A couple weeks ago my husband and I were just commenting on a rise in sighting this past year. He saw a truck with a huge flag flying in back and sent me pictures of it. They had a MI license plate so not just driving through.

Edited by reign
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Didn't read all the thread but as a real northerner (aka Canadian) the civil war is general viewed as a war about the desire of the south to hold slaves and the north being opposed to that. I've only in the last few years come to realise that there was whole lot more at stake. I guess this is just another example of how the victors write the history books.

 

As for confederate flags, in the neighbourhood in northern WA that we live in for a few months per year, there are at least two houses that fly confederate flags. I was so unfamiliar with them when we first moved there that I had to ask a southern friend what they could possibly mean besides hatred for black people. To my eyes, it looked like a KKK emblem.

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Nope, I've lived in rural areas for the majority of my life. The confederate flag is just not a thing here in my corner of the midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin).

 

Eh, it is a thing in Wisconsin. Usually on trucks. A couple of years ago, some kids argued they weren't racist and it just stands for hunting and fishing or "freedom." It's also usually paired with the Gadsden flag or the US flag.

 

I've lived near Madison and in other more rural parts of the state. It's absolutely here.

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I believe you are referencing the Tragedy of Ebenezer Creek.  That actually occurred under Union commander General Jefferson Davis, not Sherman. Davis was a subordinate of Sherman, but Sherman was not present and to my knowledge Davis did not claim to be acting under Sherman's orders.  I also believe the number of freedmen involved was in the hundreds, not thousands.

 

This was Jefferson C. Davis.  

 

Just an important distinction, because Jefferson F. Davis was president of the Confederate States. And, also the namesake of my middle school.  Somewhere around 2003-04 or so, someone had the decency to change the name of the school.  FTR, the school was named after JD in the 60's.  It had a rather benign geographic based name prior to that.  Interesting coincidence, eh? 

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Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by "dog-whistle" in this context. Do you mean that the phrase "War of Northern Aggression" is cause for white supremacy to get upset? I'm just not following you can you give some more explanation.

 

And to clarify, I don't use the phrase "War of Northern Aggression." I call it the Civil War. But, I have heard the term "War of Northern Aggression" used. I used to live in Richmond, VA for 6 years.

 

See here for what I mean when I say "dog-whistle."   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics

 

In other, more direct words... the term "War of Northern Aggression" is primarily used by people who are white supremacist and/or sympathizers of white supremacists as code to other white supremacists that they, too, are sympatico. 

Edited by Audrey
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I think the people in this thread who are saying they've never seen the Confederate battle flag much in the north have either only been in cities and suburbs or are just blind to it, because it doesn't raise their ire or offend them or whatever. It's there. I know that there was a fight to keep the Confederate flag out of a NY county fair this year. It's just everywhere.

 

When I was 12 my folks moved us to a very small rural town in the Midwest.  They still live there, so I visit regularly.  Nope, no Confederate stuff displayed, except maybe by a couple drunk hillbillies outside of town whom nobody takes seriously.

 

What the town does have is a historic building which was the law office of a famous abolitionist, a station on the Underground Railroad.

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Eh, it is a thing in Wisconsin. Usually on trucks. A couple of years ago, some kids argued they weren't racist and it just stands for hunting and fishing or "freedom." It's also usually paired with the Gadsden flag or the US flag.

 

I've lived near Madison and in other more rural parts of the state. It's absolutely here.

Yes. My family all lives in the rural tri-state area in IA, MN, and WI, and I've seen it in all three states. It's not everywhere, but it's definitely there. I saw an absolutely disgusting pro-Trump Halloween/election yard display in my small IA hometown last Novemeber that included both the US and confederate flags and statues of little slave boys.
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I grew up in CO and viewed the Civil War as something that happened between the North & the South but didn't have any real meaning in my world. It happened way over on the other side of the country; a place I had never visited but only read about in books.  Like Garga, I was taught the North was good and the South was bad and it was a darned good thing the North won or we would be living under the rule of evil men. Living in Colorado Springs, I was more concerned with the Cold War and its immediate and quite real implications on my life. Everyone knew that NORAD would be one of the first targets and that we would all be dead within seconds of a nuclear attack.

 

I cannot recall seeing the Confederate flag flown during my youth. I vaguely recall asking about it while watching The Dukes of Hazard. I always associated the CF with the under-educated, hillbilly classes of the South, excluding Florida. Florida was always about old people and Disney. The CF was more about Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri. I cannot tell you why, that's just what I believed. After having moved to IL, I associated the CF with country boys or wanna be country boys. The type of boy who drives an old pickup (lifted), wears holey jeans, fake cowboy boots, and baseball caps, listens to country music, doesn't like to study, and, more often than not, plays football. They are the boys who would have become blue collar factory workers if the factories still existed. Instead, they are a group which believes they have nowhere to go and they are frustrated. They're either not smart enough or dedicated enough to go to college and the only jobs available are low-paying and far between.

 

Until recently, I never associated the CF with modern hatred or racism. Closedmindedness, yes. Frustration, yes. Hatred,no. 

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I grew up in the North and then moved South. It is a completely different culture concerning the War. It was all very odd to me and my family. It is very odd to me still. The first day at the bus stop I was told to go home dam* yankee! I was 12! I thought they were talking about the New York Yankees!

My inlaws are from the deep south, but moved to Ohio for a corporate job. They moved back with dh in the early 80s, and people had a lot of "move back yankee" type things to say.

 

It turned dh down a path of loving history, and he can tell you all about the Hillbilly Highway that runs from West VA to Ohio and the midwest, in search of jobs.. Fascia ting stuff, though I think k my kids have gotten maybe a bit too much Scots Irish heritage talk and not enough of other things.

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I'm still traumatized by watching ROOTS when I was 12 or so. It was brutal. I still remember scenes vividly.

 

Kunta Kinte. Kunta walking after he didn't have his foot. And many more.

 

Atlanta has a monument to Kunta Kinte.

 

Alley

This! I couldn't watch it all. I remember calling out and yelling at the man who was whipping a slave. "Make him stop. Just make him stop."

 

To this day, I cannot watch war movies. I have never seen Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Dances with Wolves, or any number of other movies. Man's atrocities to man just turn my stomach.

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Eh, it is a thing in Wisconsin. Usually on trucks. A couple of years ago, some kids argued they weren't racist and it just stands for hunting and fishing or "freedom." It's also usually paired with the Gadsden flag or the US flag.

 

I've lived near Madison and in other more rural parts of the state. It's absolutely here.

 

I was raised in Georgia but have lived in northern Illinois for the past 25 years. I go to Madison a couple of times a month and have never seen the flag along the way, nor in Illinois. I see it in Georgia when I visit. I must not be paying attention around here!  How have I missed that? Probably because it's not on my radar since it's not the south...I need to be more observant. 

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In the south it was common when I was growing up, even among people who went on to have interracial marriages and children. In the Midwest I've seen the flag hung inside the private spaces in homes of a couple people from the South (Think bedrooms and dens, not foyers or living rooms where the public might see them).  Other than that I've only seen it twice: a big scary lifted truck with truck nuts and many racist bumper stickers. And on the vehicle of a work friend's husband.  Found out later he was a skinhead and had spent multiple years in prison.  Boy, did I back away from that friendship quickly.

 

 

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My inlaws are from the deep south, but moved to Ohio for a corporate job. They moved back with dh in the early 80s, and people had a lot of "move back yankee" type things to say.

s.

I grew up in WV. In 2000, right after getting married, dh and I lived in Columbia, SC (then moved to OH, now back in WV). This was when everyone was fighting about the confederate flag on the capitol building. Being from WV, I was shocked at being called a yankee many times! Growing up in WV, i. Ever really considered myself a Yankee.

 

WV is such a funny state. Technically it was part of the Union states. However the state as a whole has very southern roots and it isn't surprising to see a confederate flag flying here and there. Up until recently, I just rolled my eyes when I would see that flag and assume the owners were typical country boys. Now I'm not so sure.

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I was raised in Georgia but have lived in northern Illinois for the past 25 years. I go to Madison a couple of times a month and have never seen the flag along the way, nor in Illinois. I see it in Georgia when I visit. I must not be paying attention around here! How have I missed that? Probably because it's not on my radar since it's not the south...I need to be more observant.

You probably spend less time sitting at stoplights in more rural areas of the state than I have? Or read/watch less WI news. Heck, I didn't know there was a Confederate memorial/monument in Madison until today. I think it's one of those unconscious filters people have. You don't expect it so you don't really see it. It seems to be younger people, too.

 

Also, there are apparently enough people in the state that want them that they banned the sale of the flags at the state fair a couple of years ago - http://archive.jsonline.com/newswatch/320636692.html and at a county fair this year (http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/vernon-county-fair-bans-confederate-battle-flag/article_efabcb49-6b7a-5dca-a974-1a9e92c77702.html)

 

Every now and again stories about Wisconsin residents flying the flag pop up in the news - Eau Claire (http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/Local-man--313373181.html), Appleton (https://www.waukeshanow.com/story/news/local/2016/10/24/schools-remove-confederate-flag-grounds/92453456/), Middleton (http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/middleton-high-school-aims-to-use-confederate-flag-incident-as/article_2eefe882-437a-5b77-b171-2a15eff4e959.html), etc.

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I've never seen a confederate flag around here.

 

I have, maybe a couple of times? It's certainly very rare. 

 

Well, I don't know.  If I saw one around here I'd think someone was a history buff or something.  I'm just a dumb northerner though.  :laugh:

 

 

One time we saw a car with a big confederate flag, something like this (but confederate):

 

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=95wm6c&s=8#.WZZyMa3MxE4

 

The car had NY license plates too... it was quite weird, and no, we didn't think for a moment that the guy was a history buff. I'm not sure *what* the guy's point was, but if he was simply a history buff, he certainly lacked some common sense. 

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I've experienced more racism and confederate flags in Iowa and Indiana than anywhere else in my life and I was born and raised in small town Texas. We have to pass two homes daily that fly the confederate flag just to get to school. We also see trucks flying them often. This is most definitely not just a Southern thing. Dh was born and raised in California and he's often discussed how ridiculous his education was regarding confederate soldiers (meaning it was too much and they were way too revered). 

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And yes, she was taught her family history quite heavily.  And people in the north just don't talk about it, pretty much ever.  But they do in the south.  They just do.

 

 

I'm kind of surprised by how many people who've expressed this (in various threads). I've been told some minor things about what happened to my family during WWII (which is much more recent), but not much. Maybe my grandparents just wanted to move on with their lives? But then and again, I'm not belaboring what happened to my grandparents when I'm talking to my kids either, and I can't imagine that they would to their kids either. Unless I somehow change my mind on this in the future and start to belabor it for unknown reasons at some point... 

 

I mean, we had the Never Again stuff in school and all that... I learned about WWII, etc, but I just didn't get a ton of *family* history about it. 

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....

 

When we lived in Idaho, the only time anything remotely related to North/South stuff came up was when a grown woman (CA transplant) in her 40's said the only thing she knew about the South was that that's where slavery was.  After getting over my ummm ... surprise, I questioned her and she said that everything she had learned had come from their history books and that's about all the books said about the South.  She had never been off the West Coast. 

  

I don't remember seeing any Confederate flags in Idaho, however.  And we traveled and camped all over Idaho and Washington and northern California.  I also never saw them when we visited relatives in south Louisiana.

 

....my husband and I own land in N Idaho and I have seen several Confederate flags every time I've been there. One of the state legislative rep, Heather Scott, got in some hot water when, shortly after the church shooting in S.C., she rode in a parade in the back of a pickup truck with a huge Confederate flag draped across the back windshield. Was defiant about it, too, as were her many backers. She was reelected in 2016 with 2/3 of the vote. 

 

The Confederate flag seems to symbolize a big "FU" from the (typically) angry white people who display it, although it seems to have many more connotations, especially recently. 

Edited by Happy2BaMom
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Most of my family were immigrants to the North, but one line goes back pre-Revolutionary War, and a number of men in that line were soldiers.  At least one fought in the Civil War (on the Union side).  I have relatives who are fascinated by the family history and all that.  But the soldiers' military service isn't talked about as a moral choice to fight for this or against that.  When you're a soldier, you do what you're told, you don't decide right and wrong.  So the service in the civil war was about being a soldier, not about being an abolitionist or whatever.  I would assume the same for the other side.  Americans tend to be proud of military service assuming no known war crimes etc.

 

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My father's family has lived in this same county here in NC since well before the Civil War, and I never heard one bit of family history about it. Growing up there was always a lot of talk about life during the Depression, but nothing much at all before that except the building of the church in the early 1900's (for which my family donated the land, many of the supplies and did much of the work on). That was about as far back as was ever discussed. My grandparents were both born in the late 1800s, so they would have definitely heard their parents and grandparents discussing the Civil War. But I don't remember them (my grandparents) ever talking about it. As I said in another thread, I don't in general have a good long term memory. But I like history so I do usually remember at least the gist of what was discussed about that.

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I'm kind of surprised by how many people who've expressed this (in various threads). I've been told some minor things about what happened to my family during WWII (which is much more recent), but not much. Maybe my grandparents just wanted to move on with their lives? But then and again, I'm not belaboring what happened to my grandparents when I'm talking to my kids either, and I can't imagine that they would to their kids either. Unless I somehow change my mind on this in the future and start to belabor it for unknown reasons at some point... 

 

My family preferred not to talk in detail about their experiences during the war.

My grandfather was killed in Russia. My grandmother never spoke of it other than to curse Hitler.

My other grandmother was a refugee with three children, criss-crossing the country on trains. They lost everything in the bombings. My mom was little, but my aunt was a teenager; all that was mentioned was that she flirted with the officers so the family could find a place to sit. When she was four, my mom went begging for food claiming it was her birthday.

That is all that was ever mentioned. I think they wanted to move on. In many families where there were male soldiers who had survived and returned, they never spoke of their experiences.

 

In that light, I can actually understand the experience of a poster's mother who grew up in Germany during/after the war and did not study the war in school. All of my father's friends had widowed mothers. How can you discuss the war in a class where most children have lost a father? Too raw, too recent. 

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See here for what I mean when I say "dog-whistle." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics

 

In other, more direct words... the term "War of Northern Aggression" is primarily used by people who are white supremacist and/or sympathizers of white supremacists as code to other white supremacists that they, too, are sympatico.

I've never heard of this before. Dog whistle in politics or that white supremacists utilize this term in that way. Thanks for sharing.

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Nope, I've lived in rural areas for the majority of my life. The confederate flag is just not a thing here in my corner of the midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin).

 

And no, I'm not blind to it. If I saw someone flying a confederate flag, I would notice it immediately because it would be so unusual.

 

I've also lived in cities in the the midwest and northeast and didn't see any confederate flags there, either.

 

nm. Changed mind.

Edited by beckyjo
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The Indian wars are full of horrible things committed on buth sides. That was not taught either?

The history of western civilization is full of horribleness. I assume the 30 year war was not taught either? What about WWI? 

The atrocities of war permeate literature. So literature that depicted war was not studied either? All Quiet on the Western Front?

 

I understand that European countries may put more emphasis on their history (even though this is also the history of founders of this country, so they should teach it here, too), and having wars fought on one's own soil alters perspective. This said, the Indian Wars were fought on American soil, so they should have been thoroughly covered.

 

 

I had to look up the 30 year war to know which war you were talking about, and NL was actually involved in that one, it seems. I think it may have gotten a passing mention in school. The 80 year war got a bit more mention, though I don't recall much about that one either. WWI got shockingly little coverage... I mean, I get that we were uninvolved in that, but STILL... it wasn't completely ignored, but I learned very little about it in school... I think I can pretty much sum it up as someone shot someone over in the Balkans, and then everybody got mad and started a war, millions of people died in trenches mostly in Belgium, and the Germans lost and were forced to pay huge reparations which caused a ton of resentment and eventually led to WWII. Oh, and it was from 1914-1918, and it was the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire, for some reason (not a clue why). From personal family history, I can add to that that some jerks (no clue which side) put sea mines in the North Sea, which caused my great-grandfather (who worked as a mechanic on a fishing boat) to die soon after the war ended. WWII got a substantial amount of coverage though. I don't recall if the French and Indian War was mentioned. Too many wars to keep track of all of them, tbh (I think we got some reasonable coverage of the Napoleonic wars, and some of the ancient Greek and Roman stuff or w/e). 

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My family preferred not to talk in detail about their experiences during the war.

My grandfather was killed in Russia. My grandmother never spoke of it other than to curse Hitler.

My other grandmother was a refugee with three children, criss-crossing the country on trains. They lost everything in the bombings. My mom was little, but my aunt was a teenager; all that was mentioned was that she flirted with the officers so the family could find a place to sit. When she was four, my mom went begging for food claiming it was her birthday.

That is all that was ever mentioned. I think they wanted to move on. In many families where there were male soldiers who had survived and returned, they never spoke of their experiences.

 

In that light, I can actually understand the experience of a poster's mother who grew up in Germany during/after the war and did not study the war in school. All of my father's friends had widowed mothers. How can you discuss the war in a class where most children have lost a father? Too raw, too recent. 

 

 

I'm just kind of unclear as to how people of later generations talk about their family history if the first generations following the war didn't. Or maybe it's just that some did, and those are more likely to be vocal about what happened, making it seem like more people talk about their family history and the Civil War. 

 

As an aside, my family experience of WWII is of course not comparable to the a Southerner's experience of the CW - we were neutral, were invaded, and then in the end "won" on the allied side - we didn't "lose" the war (in quotes because everybody loses in war).  I also wonder if my grandparents maybe thought the stuff that happened to them was too minor, when you know what happened to the Jews etc (and my grandfather's (great?)grandfather was a Jew who'd moved from Germany to NL and converted to christianity in the 19th century, so he could probably imagine all too well how things could've gone differently... he hid for a few months near the end of the war to avoid being drafted, and as mentioned above on the other side of my family my grandmother seemed more ticked off by losing her father when she was 4 to a WWI-related sea mine... she told that story a number of times... though I think some things just weren't talked about... she had two miscarriages during WWII, related to stress and less-than-ideal nutrition (her husband was forced to work in Germany as a baker... like I said, minor stuff), but people just didn't talk about miscarriages (actually, for the most part, I think people still tend to not talk about them)... I think I was told about them only one time, never to be mentioned again, and only because I directly asked about what WWII was like for them).

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I'm just kind of unclear as to how people of later generations talk about their family history if the first generations following the war didn't. Or maybe it's just that some did, and those are more likely to be vocal about what happened, making it seem like more people talk about their family history and the Civil War. 

 

I think it is two-fold.  One, they said enough to various people that you can put together a few things from their experience and, two, yes, some people are very vocal and so, again, you can put together what happened to your own relative.

 

My grandfather fought in WW2.  He was drafted into the army as many were.  He was a machine gunner.  There is very little we know because he did not like to talk about the war.  I suspect today he'd have been diagnosed with PTSD.  After he died, my grandmother said he'd wake up with nightmares throughout the rest of his life.  My sister once found his bronze star.  She asked how he got it and he told her (he said he was "stupid" but it was for single-handedly neutralizing the enemy - he didn't hear the call to retreat because he was occupied by the machine guns getting jammed and kept moving to new ones until eventually he was the only one shooting and the Nazis retreated).  My brother asked if he ever saw a concentration camp.  He helped liberate one (they thought it was a pig farm as they came up to it because of the smell).  And that was pretty much all he'd say.

 

However, one of the guys in my grandfather's platoon wrote a book.  It chronicles what they did and saw.  Thanks to that guy and his willingness to talk about everything and write about it, we have a pretty clear picture of what my grandfather experienced.

 

As for the Civil War, we have records (both Union and Confederate - I've got both in my family history) and using those combined with the general history we know, we can "see" where my ancestors fought and what they did.  There are many contemporary sources for various wars that help complete the picture when looking for what ancestors did.

 

As for the original thought - that northerners don't really think about the Civil War - well, that kind of depends.  Much of my family is from southern Maryland.  Maryland was part of the Union, but also a slave state.  It's kind of an identity crisis state, part north, part south.  I grew up a mile down the road from the Dr. Mudd house - the guy who set John Wilkes Booth's leg after he shot President Lincoln.  The Civil War was kind of a big deal to a lot of people (though Confederate flags just aren't common there; I can't think of a single time I saw one being flown near my homes in my 35 years in southern MD or northern VA).  It's also a state where when they talk about brother against brother (one going with the Union, one going with the Confederacy), that's a place it literally played out.  I have at least one instance of that in my family tree in fact.

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Eh, it is a thing in Wisconsin. Usually on trucks. A couple of years ago, some kids argued they weren't racist and it just stands for hunting and fishing or "freedom." It's also usually paired with the Gadsden flag or the US flag.

 

I've lived near Madison and in other more rural parts of the state. It's absolutely here.

 

I'm in semi-rural WI near Milwaukee. I've honestly only seen it on one truck and one house. I am very sensitive to it & find it jarring to see. So I'm not saying it isn't here - it clearly is, but I'm sure it varies by community.  I would not consider it normal or commonplace. Surprisingly, I only saw those two incidents since the last election cycle. & I've lived here over 10 years.

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My family preferred not to talk in detail about their experiences during the war.

My grandfather was killed in Russia. My grandmother never spoke of it other than to curse Hitler.

My other grandmother was a refugee with three children, criss-crossing the country on trains. They lost everything in the bombings. My mom was little, but my aunt was a teenager; all that was mentioned was that she flirted with the officers so the family could find a place to sit. When she was four, my mom went begging for food claiming it was her birthday.

That is all that was ever mentioned. I think they wanted to move on. In many families where there were male soldiers who had survived and returned, they never spoke of their experiences.

 

In that light, I can actually understand the experience of a poster's mother who grew up in Germany during/after the war and did not study the war in school. All of my father's friends had widowed mothers. How can you discuss the war in a class where most children have lost a father? Too raw, too recent. 

 

My father was a child in Czechoslovakia during WWII - in the thick of the Eastern Front. Information only trickles out and very rarely. 

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I would love to see a sampling of history texts from different countries to see how they handle these things.  I know the US glosses over most things and also distorts the facts.  I just don't think we consider history an important thing for kids to learn in school.  I'd love to see how "doing it right" looks.

 

 

Good luck finding a country that "does it right". I don't think there is a country on this planet that offers an objective and balanced view of history. That said, some probably come closer than others. But anyway, I can help you with the "sampling of history texts from different countries" part with a current Dutch history textbook. It seems to mention some things that I wasn't taught. If you click on the ones that say TTO, they'll be in English. There's a textbook and a workbook... Year 1 of secondary school is 7th grade, year 2 is 8th grade, etc... the year 2 book's sample chapter happens to be the chapter on America 1600-1900, so you can read the entire *current* Dutch 8th grade coverage of the American CW etc (that said, I haven't looked at the Dutch language versions to see if they cover the same, and different publishers might cover slightly different stuff... this is a very major publisher though, and NL does have national curriculum guidelines or w/e): 

 

https://www.malmberg.nl/voortgezet-onderwijs/methodes/mens-maatschappij/geschiedenis/memo-onderbouw/lesmateriaal.htm

 

Unfortunately, for grades 9+, they only have books in Dutch (and I'm a little unclear on how it's supposed to be used... I remember my 10th grade history teacher picking and choosing which chapters to cover (not sure what publisher published my textbook)... I read the 9th grade history textbook cover-to-cover the summer I skipped 9th grade, and history was not a required subject in 11th and 12th grade, and I didn't have space in my schedule for it, so I didn't take it). One of the books is for HAVO, which is the middle stream, and one is for VWO, which is the pre-university stream (and one is exam prep). Anyhow, you can look at the pictures, and some Dutch words should be pretty recognizable to English speakers:

 

https://www.malmberg.nl/voortgezet-onderwijs/methodes/mens-maatschappij/geschiedenis/memo-havovwo-bovenbouw-1/lesmateriaal.htm

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My father's family has lived in this same county here in NC since well before the Civil War, and I never heard one bit of family history about it. Growing up there was always a lot of talk about life during the Depression, but nothing much at all before that except the building of the church in the early 1900's (for which my family donated the land, many of the supplies and did much of the work on). That was about as far back as was ever discussed. My grandparents were both born in the late 1800s, so they would have definitely heard their parents and grandparents discussing the Civil War. But I don't remember them (my grandparents) ever talking about it. As I said in another thread, I don't in general have a good long term memory. But I like history so I do usually remember at least the gist of what was discussed about that.

 

Since we live in the same county, I'll say that the same is true for me. We've been here since the American Revolution, but I never hear anyone discuss our family history in regards to major events like a war. There are some stories about my ancestors as people that I've heard, like my grandfather leaving home at 13 to escape his abusive father and older siblings and working his way up from dishwasher to restaurateur, but that's it.

 

OTOH, one of my good friends is from a Southern-transplant Midwestern family and they know EVERYTHING about their family's involvement in the Civil War, including which of their ancestors served, and when, and where. They have a family reunion every year where this seems to be a major topic of conversation.

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My alarm is set to an news station.  When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night.  This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves."  This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There.  I said it.

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I saw way more Confederate flag in Ohio than in the south where I grew up, and my hometown is *incredibly* racist.

 

As a rule though, I do not feel the compulsion to give the benefit of the doubt to people flying Confederate flag jic they're super into family history. Things change meaning, and now that thing is incredibly hurtful to a huge swath of the population.

 

Plus people who joined the Confederate army just because there was a war on and they were southerners', which was no doubt a ton of people, wouldn't be super proud of what the Confederacy stood for which was, in part, absolutely the right to own human beings.

I do feel the need to say I haven't seen one yet here, not even in the tiny towns we drove through. At least in this corner of the state I'm seeing a nice mix of people and not a ton of racial friction.
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My alarm is set to an news station.  When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night.  This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves."  This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There.  I said it.

 

I have been longing to say the bolded out loud for weeks now, but I'm too afraid to...

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I moved from CA to VA and it was strange seeing confederate flags. Robert E. Lee holiday is very strange. And the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. day is a Friday and Robert E. Lee day is the following Monday is totally wrong.

 

 

Alley

It used to be the same day. I'm a Millenial, and I got a school holiday each year for Lee-Jackson-King Day.
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It's SO funny how different people can experience the same place VERY differently.

 

This was NOT my experience at all. I don't LIVE there (though I do live rural in Indiana) but have been there multiple times. I just haven't seen those things.

Indiana has the highest per capita membership in the KKK. I'm not sure how you missed the Rebel flag and etcetera there.

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I'm in a rural area in upstate NY, near the Canadian border.

 

There are a lot of Confederate Flags here, outside of town- it's definately a "thing".

 

There's a guy who rides a motorcycle I see often whose entire prosthetic leg is printed with a CF even. Pickup trucks fly full size CF around town ever since the local presidential rally. But a lot of them printed on hats, t shirts, bumper stickers, etc have always been around.

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My Dad is really into genealogy.  We have an ancestor who died in the Andersonville prison camp just days before the Civil War was over.  So he's really into the history of it.  As a child I visited Gettysburg and went to see a few reenactments. 

 

In High School I had a history teacher who was very interested in it.  We parked there for several weeks.  It got annoying after a while, I just wanted to move on.  But now that I teach my kids, I can see that he wanted to share his passion with his students. 

 

I live in Mid-Michigan and it's not entirely uncommon to see the Confederate flag displayed here or there on pick-up trucks, on wife-beater tee shirts, merchandise at county fairs or even on the occasional house.  It's not the norm and there's always a "type" of person involved.  But I probably see one or two a week. 

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