I live in Alexandria, VA, a close-in suburb of Washington. On a good day, I can be in DC in 10 minutes. On a great day, I wouldn’t be in DC (rimshot). I love it here, though. According to our local blog, Red Brick Town, “Alexandria, Virginia is the Most Liberal City in Virginia.” I live in a section of town called Del Ray, which is the tip of the liberal iceberg. I like to call it a hippie commune, with multiple yoga studios, holistic medicine practitioners, and coffee shops mere blocks from each other. One of the coffee shops has a Moms Demand gun control sign in their window. As a pretty hard right conservative, I don’t fit in at all, but, that is pretty much the story of my life.
Recently, I started taking water aerobics at the local YMCA. As a 44-year old man, I am 1) the youngest in the class and 2) the only guy. Not a problem as everyone is kind and welcoming, probably because I haven’t told any of them I work for NRA News. The only time I felt awkward was yesterday, when I couldn’t contribute to the classwide discussion of hot flashes. I just stared at the wall and prayed that it would end.
The water aerobics ladies also discussed “Downton Abbey,” another topic I have no clue about, but at least it’s not cringe-inducing. One of them mentioned PBS was coming out with a new series that took place here in Alexandria, called “Mercy Street.” I found that to be an interesting tidbit, then went back to trying not to drown as we did our underwater karate kicks.
I doubt this is just me, but I have noticed that when you hear or learn of something new, you subsequently run into more information about that topic. The subconscious acts in strange ways. Before yesterday, I would have never noticed this tweet:
Alexandria hopes PBS Civil War series will pay off in tourism https://t.co/kpf6WJRwoJ
— Post Local (@postlocal) January 13, 2016
I didn’t know the setting of the show until I saw the Washington Post tweet. The Civil War. Interesting.
“Mercy Street,” a six-episode drama inspired by events that took place in Alexandria during the 1860s, will begin airing at 10 p.m. Sunday on local PBS channels. Rich in period attire, settings and subordinate story lines, the show focuses on two nurses from opposing sides of the war who work at a military hospital in Alexandria, which was a Southern town occupied by Union troops.
The Confederate-sympathizing Green family, whose luxury hotel became the Mansion House Hospital, were Alexandria residents who ran a furniture store and left diaries that have been used as background for the show. Their family home is now the Carlyle House. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, now a museum, filled the need for drugs during the time. The cemeteries and restored slave pens of the era still exist.
“Confederate-sympathizing.” Really interesting, and completely ironic.
Ironic, because since the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC last year, Alexandria, like many parts of the South, has been working hard on erasing any vestiges of its Confederate past.
I live blocks from Jefferson Davis Highway. Alexandria is considering a repeal of a law that requires Confederate street names:
An Alexandria, Va. city councilman is introducing legislation to repeal a 1963 law that required, when possible, the naming of any new north-south street for Confederate military leaders.
As a Northern guy, born in Brooklyn, I have no interest in flying a Confederate flag myself, but I am also not a fan of erasing history. Alexandria council voted to prohibit the flying of Confederate flags by the city:
The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the flying of Confederate flags by the city and will form a citizens committee to study whether to rename streets named for Southern military leaders.
The action does not outlaw parades or forbid spectators to wave Rebel flags, council members said. And the waving of other nations’ flags by groups such as those that celebrate Irish or Scottish history will be allowed. But the era of city employees raising a Confederate flag on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day is over.
In the middle one of the city streets is this statue, erected in 1889 to commemorate Confederate soldiers who died in battle.
This apparently has to go too. Democrat Calls Old Town Confederate Memorial ‘Problematic’:
A Confederate statue in Alexandria, Va., is the latest memorial associated with the Civil War to be branded “problematic” by Democrats.
Alexandria Councilman Justin Wilson (D.) hinted Thursday that the Appomattox statue at the intersection of Washington and Prince Streets in Old Town should be removed.
“I think there’s an appropriate context that we have to place that history in, and I think there’s a lot of folks who don’t feel like a statue honoring that cause is the appropriate place for that,” Wilson told NPR News station WMAU. “The nature of that memorial and the glorification of that cause I think is problematic.”
Since reading about the PBS show today, I have been picturing in my head tourists coming to Alexandria in the future, wondering what happened to the Confederate imagery sure to be featured on “Mercy Street.” The worst part of the fight over Confederate flags, symbols, and statues, is the wholesale erasing or hiding a vital part of our nation’s past that forever shaped this country. A lot of terrible things happened during the Civil War to be sure, but taking down a statue won’t change the past, it will only skew the future.
In the Washington Post story that led me to this:
Patricia Washington, president and chief executive of Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism agency, said that the exposure to a national audience is invaluable.
“You cannot buy that kind of marketing at any price,” Washington said. “Our job now is to invite millions of viewers from all over the country to explore the real sites and stories that inspired the series.”
I welcome everyone here to this beautiful and historic city. I would just prefer that when tourists get here, they see the unvarnished, real history of Alexandria, VA, not the bleached, polished, and politically correct history city leaders think they need instead.