It must have been about the time of the Fort Sumter Centennial that a bunch of us boys found shelter from the Carolina summer and began to struggle with the problem of southern identity. As was likely to happen with ten- and elevenyear-olds in that time and place, our hazy recollections of martial valor and the challenges of impending manhood led to the subject of the "late unpleasantness." Our neighborhood's military expert started us off. "America always wins," he announced with pride. "We've won every war we've ever had." That sounded good, but the rest of us decided to check him out. World War II? That was easy. Our daddies had fought that one. Korea? Nobody knew much about it, but we guessed so. World War I? No problem there, though most of us had barely heard of it. "What about the Civil War?" somebody finally remembered. "America won that too I bet." We paused to figure. "Nuh-uh," came from a skeptic. "We lost that one." Slowly the seminar broke up in confusion. "You're supposed to call it 'The War Between the States,' our purist insisted, but nobody knew why. Changing the name didn't seem to help much.
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 4, 1996
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