Confederate War Dead

I recently visited the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. There are many Confederate dead at that spot. In my view, a Confederate flag is little different than a swastika.

Yet at the cemetery, I wondered to what extent the dead men had cared about the cause. If they had been born in Vermont instead of Texas, they likely would have fought for the other side.

My father was a medic in the Korean War. Despite a red cross on his arm band, people shot at him and he shot back. I once asked my father if he had been angry at the Chinese and North Korean troops on the other side. He said no. He said something like that they were just poor bastards little different from himself.

Maybe that is easy for him to say years after the fact. But he was there and that is surely his impression today.

Individuals are culpable for atrocities. It’s a harder call about what to think of someone who fought under standard rules of war. Most of us are in many respects the poor bastards my father saw across enemy lines.

Here is a link to the well-known Allen Tate poem “Ode to the Confederate Dead.”