Florida established a Veterans’ Hall of Fame to honor veterans who have made significant contributions to the State of Florida. The Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Council submitted eight names nominated to be 2014 inductees. Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast, a retired US Army colonel, submitted five of those names to the Governor and his Cabinet. Apparently, the three names left off were confederate, not U.S., veterans. Predictably, the neoconfederates are up in arms about this. Even H. K. Edgerton brought his act. I wonder if H. K. charged his usual appearance fee of $20,000 plus lodging and meals plus $.62 per mile in travel costs [both ways]. William Mack Lee had nothing on H. K. when it comes to fleecing the gullible confederate heritage types. He’s still trying to push the lie that confederate veterans are American veterans.
Neoconfederates want to know why confederate veterans should be excluded. I think Frederick Douglass had the answer in 1871, in his “Address at the Graves of the Unknown Dead:”
“We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life, and those who struck to save it – those who fought for slavery, and those who fought for liberty and justice.
“I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.
“If we ought to forget a war which has filled our land with widows and orphans; which has made stumps of men of the very flower of our youth, and sent them on the journey of life armless, legless, maimed, and mutilated; which has piled up a debt heavier than a mountain of gold – swept uncounted thousands of men into bloody graves – and planted agony at a million hearthstones; I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, in the name of all things sacred, what shall men remember?
“The essence and significance of our devotions here today are not to be found in the fact that the men whose remains fill these graves were brave in battle. If we were met simply to show our sense of the worth of bravery, we should find enough to kindle admiration on both sides. In the raging storm of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel not less than the loyal soldier.
“But we are here to applaud manly courage only as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the Republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France; if now we have a united country no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage; if the American name is no longer a byword and a hissing to a mocking earth; if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army which rests in these honored graves all around us.”
And Douglass nailed it in his 1894 Decoration Day Address in Rochester, New York: “Fellow citizens: I am not indifferent to the claims of a generous forgetfulness, but whatever else I may forget, I shall never forget the difference between those who fought for liberty and those who fought for slavery; between those who fought to save the republic and those who fought to destroy it.”
Apparently, someone in the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs agrees. The question remains whether or not that view will prevail.
One of the loons at the Gift That Keeps On Giving posted a “Heritage Violation” about this:
Notice they’re also trying to push the lie that confederate veterans are “USA veterans.” These people are both ignorant and dishonest. Here’s the Florida statute referenced.
Florida Statute 292.05 appears to define “veterans” as veterans of the United States armed forces. If this definition is upheld, then confederate veterans don’t belong in the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.