Confession Time! But No Apologies

 

Clinton fixer Lanny Davis is rightly celebrated for his political strategy to counter attacks or scandals. “Tell it early, tell it all, and tell it yourself,” he said, authoring a book with that subtitle.

It’s good advice. And while I will never place my name in nomination for any public office, invoking terms attributed to famous Civil War Union General William T. Sherman, allow me to follow Davis’s sage advice.

Like Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano, I have also donned a confederate officer’s uniform. And like St. Sen Mastriano, I won’t apologize.

I wore it in Philadelphia for an annual Civil War Ball at the historic Union League in downtown Philadelphia more than a decade ago. I rented it at a long-closed costume shop in downtown Wayne, Pennsylvania. A photo of me in a gray confederate officer’s dress uniform exists somewhere. It is also not hard to find publicly-available photos of like-minded Union League members in full confederate regalia at more recent balls. My uniform looked a great deal like this, but I added a yellow sash around my waist.

Modern pearl clutchers, especially those found at Reuters and collegiate “safe spaces,” are no doubt horrified by Mastriano’s wearing of a historical uniform where he was encouraged to at an Army War College event, where he was a faculty member. “Displays of Confederate symbols can be seen as insensitive to those who view them as painful reminders of racial oppression and the Civil War that saw 11 rebelling Confederate states fight to keep Black people enslaved,” Reuters’ triggered reporters wrote.

I have no idea if Mastriano has ancestors who served in the War Between the States. I do. Both sides. Privates all, including Silas Spence from southwest Virginia, who signed up for the 54th Virginia and was captured at the Battle of Chickamauga. And on the Union side, George Washington Burris marched with Gen. Sherman “to the sea.” Both are great-great-grandfathers.

No word yet on whether George Washington’s Mount Vernon will fire the nice gentleman who portrays our first President at events there. After all, Washington owned slaves. Then again, Mount Vernon, a must-visit venue south of Washington and Alexandria, Virginia, is privately funded.

 Dean Marissa used to portray George Washington at Mount Vernon. He’s posing here with the NHL’s Stanley Cup after the Washington Capitals won it in 2018.

This is all part and parcel of the partisan and media narrative that Mastriano, an Army veteran of 30 years and State Senator, embodies all of today’s political pejoratives – “Christian Nationalist” (whatever that means) and, of course, “white supremacist.” Or, today’s new one, courtesy of Joe Biden, “semi-fascism.” Nice job fulfilling that promise to unify America, Mr. President.

Except they’re not just talking about Sen. Mastriano. They’re talking about you if you so much as voted for Donald Trump.

Mastriano and I are not alone. Thousands of other people from across the United States (other than Hollywood), have sported all manner of confederate uniforms at Civil War battle reenactments, encampments, and expos across the United States (even California).

I have taken my sons to several Civil War (and at least one Revolutionary War) reenactments over their formative years. One attended a weeklong summer camp hosted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Loudoun County, Virginia. Reenactments foster a unique community and culture, drawing thousands of participants, spectators, history buffs, and curious bystanders. Reenactors from both sides and both genders preserve and interpret history from the battles they stage and their authentic muslin tents, cookware, and even hardtack biscuits. It is a great way to teach “living history” to young people.

 Confederate reenactors

At the Union League event my wife and I attended, we were greeted by a fellow League member dressed as General U.S. Grant, who I recall was serving as one of the event’s officials. He greeted me warmly and mentioned how several of us dressed as confederates were welcome in the spirit of our country’s reunification. No one was there to score political points. No one was “triggered.” We did enjoy learning Civil War-era dance steps.

The reunification of our country. What a novel concept.

If I were advising Sen. Mastriano, I might suggest gathering the flock of pearl-clutching news reporters and make a statement that reads something like this.

“Welcome. There are reports that as a member of the Army War College faculty nearly a decade ago, I donned a confederate uniform for an event we were asked to wear historical military attire.

“To reunify our country after that horrific historical episode, confederate regiments were incorporated into the Union army, including the legendary 29th Infantry Division. I brought their division symbol with me today, incorporated on shoulder patches and their regimental flag, to show you what it looks like and what it means because it helps explain why I wore that particular uniform on that day.

 The color guard presents their unit’s colors during the 29th Infantry Division’s transfer-of-authority ceremony Dec. 19, 2016, at Camp Arifan, Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Angela Lorden)

“Let me quote the website, Military.com: ‘The patch, introduced during World War I, is a blue and gray yin and yang, referencing the merger of old Union and Confederate units and soldiers with family ties to the Confederacy joining the ranks.’

“Imagine that; a division that honors and incorporates great military units into the reunification of our great country. That includes the 116th regiment, a unit that lost almost 90 percent of its soldiers on D-Day, fighting to liberate Europe from the Nazis. That regiment started as the Stonewall Brigade, fighting for the South during the Civil War. By World War II, they’d made not only quite the transition but quite the sacrifice.

 Monument to the 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, Omaha Beach at Normandy, France

“Civil war era uniforms, north and south, are worn almost every weekend at reenactment and encampments across the United States. There were three this past weekend alone in Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. There is one next weekend in Bedford, Virginia, home of the National D-Day Museum. We have them across Pennsylvania, especially at Gettsyburg, which I’m proud to represent in the State Senate.

“Reenactments and other historical events remind us of history that must not be forgotten, so much of it may not be repeated. And ultimately, they lead us to commemorate the reunification of our great country as the world’s beacon of truth, justice, and freedom.

“If you’re looking for an apology for commemorating our history and honoring our reunification, you’re not going to get one. We need to reunify our country, not tear it apart by trying to impose modern-day standards on events and peoples from 160 years ago. Those who try to rewrite or erase history are dooming us to repeat it.

“I proudly wore my country’s uniform for 30 years and served in three conflicts. I led troops of all races and creeds. One thing I know is that no matter the color of our uniform or skin color, we all bleed red. We are all Americans. And no matter our race, creed, or political affiliation, we all suffer from higher inflation, rising crime, and failed leadership in Harrisburg and Washington.

“As governor, I will fight efforts by partisans and the press to divide and divert us from the real challenges we confront. It’s time to get serious.”

As a dramatic flourish, as Mastriano leaves the podium, he should stop, dramatically, and return.

Leaning into the microphone, staring into the cameras, pausing for emphasis, he should add, “I do apologize for one thing.

“Dressing as a Democrat.”

Mic drop.

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  1. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Yeah, I wrote a piece (I believe three or four months back) which incorporated the kerfuffle surrounding the patch of the 29th Infantry.

    This was part of SECDEF Austin’s project to stamp out all vestiges of the Confederacy.  The original intent of the “commission” was to rename all Army bases which were named after Confederate generals.

    However, being the good little Stalinists that they are,  they started combing through all the names of bases, ships, anything that had a name, looking for the most minute sign that might link it to the dreaded Confederacy.  To me, the “commission” resembles McCarthy’s committee looking for Communists.

    Such are the times we are living in…

    • #1
  2. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Yeah, I wrote a piece (I believe three or four months back) which incorporated the kerfuffle surrounding the patch of the 29th Infantry.

    This was part of SECDEF Austin’s project to stamp out all vestiges of the Confederacy. The original intent of the “commission” was to rename all Army bases which were named after Confederate generals.

    However, being the good little Stalinists that they are, they started combing through all the names of bases, ships, anything that had a name, looking for the most minute sign that might link it to the dreaded Confederacy. To me, the “commission” resembles McCarthy’s committee looking for Communists.

    Such are the times we are living in…

    I’m actually surprised the 29th’s symbol survived the inquisition. It lives on. The 116th Regiment’s patch, a rendition of the Stonewall Jackson monument at Manassas National Battlefield, probably not so much. 

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Once I went to a fraternity party dressed as a Viking. No villages were burned a a result.

    Thought about it, though.

    • #3
  4. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    You are missing the point: the pseudo-scientific defense of slavery, the KKK, lynchings, segregation and Jim Crow were and are Democratic Party policies, initiatives and inventions. Evil-minded Democrats (but I repeat myself) involved Southern communities in a horrific civil war that must be remembered to be avoided. That members of both sides comported themselves with honor on occasion is a testament to human dignity, not an apology or an excuse for the sinister institution behind the poisoning of the American body politic. To wear a Confederate uniform is to bear witness to the blood shed by the Democrats – the blood of slaves, the blood of Union and Democrat soldiers, the blood of those freed who wished to exercise their Constitutional right to vote Republican. 

    • #4
  5. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Percival (View Comment):

    Once I went to a fraternity party dressed as a Viking. No villages were burned a a result.

    Thought about it, though.

    Well, depending on the college town you were close to, you may have been within your rights…

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    genferei (View Comment):

    You are missing the point: the pseudo-scientific defense of slavery, the KKK, lynchings, segregation and Jim Crow were and are Democratic Party policies, initiatives and inventions. Evil-minded Democrats (but I repeat myself) involved Southern communities in a horrific civil war that must be remembered to be avoided. That members of both sides comported themselves with honor on occasion is a testament to human dignity, not an apology or an excuse for the sinister institution behind the poisoning of the American body politic. To wear a Confederate uniform is to bear witness to the blood shed by the Democrats – the blood of slaves, the blood of Union and Democrat soldiers, the blood of those freed who wished to exercise their Constitutional right to vote Republican.

    Mastriano should apologize for dressing up as a Democrat.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Yeah, I wrote a piece (I believe three or four months back) which incorporated the kerfuffle surrounding the patch of the 29th Infantry.

    This was part of SECDEF Austin’s project to stamp out all vestiges of the Confederacy. The original intent of the “commission” was to rename all Army bases which were named after Confederate generals.

    However, being the good little Stalinists that they are, they started combing through all the names of bases, ships, anything that had a name, looking for the most minute sign that might link it to the dreaded Confederacy. To me, the “commission” resembles McCarthy’s committee looking for Communists.

    Such are the times we are living in…

    Except that McCarthy was RIGHT about State in particular and gov in general being rotten with active, subversive commies.

    • #8
  9. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Interestingly I was listening to VDH’s podcast and he talked about how woke history is so terrible because it measures figures from the past by modern sensibilities and mores, an impossible standard.  Ahh, well, yet another example of how our educational system has been corrupted by the left.

    • #9
  10. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    Interestingly I was listening to VDH’s podcast and he talked about how woke history is so terrible because it measures figures from the past by modern sensibilities and mores, an impossible standard. Ahh, well, yet another example of how our educational system has been corrupted by the left.

    And the examples keep coming and coming.  Yet, those “educators” don’t give a flip; not one.

    • #10
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