Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dedication of Tennessee Monument at Shiloh

Julia, Frankie, and I went down to Shiloh for the dedication of the new Tennessee Monument at Shiloh.

It is somewhat surprising that there has not been such a monument before but reading in Confederates in the Attic I found that previously people have thought of Shiloh as a northerner's park. Maybe that is the reason.

We stopped at the headquarters to buy a day's pass. Frankie noted that most people did not have the orange sign on their dashboards. I always like to do the right thing and pay my debts. Besides, I felt it was a donation to the park and was happy to give that.

Despite the rain the day before there was parking on the grass at the monument site. The parking was well organized, quick, and close to the monument.

I had seen the monument before when I went to Shiloh with my friends Ray and Linda Jones. It was uncovered on one pass by but covered the next and also when I went to Shiloh with Anne's family. Previously it had been covered in black plastic but on dedication day it was covered with a beige cloth fabric with ropes so it could be unveiled.

Most people had had the foresight to bring chairs; we did not so we had to stand.

The people present were as much a show as the monument. There were several Confederate "widows" there, dressing in long black dresses, blact veils, and carrying black parasols. Many other people were dressed in period costumes. It seemed that most of the older women had their grandchildren with them, also dressed in costume.

There were several units of reenactors there, including a calvary unit. They all seemed to be Confederate. Even the one that was mostly black. I was puzzled by this and by the absence of Union costomers and the mention of anything Union.

A band played military songs.

All these people were hot, I know. It was actually a nice June day, not too, too hot but in those uniforms I know they were burning up. Surely in the Civil War those soldiers were smart enough to take off those heavy wool shirts in the summertime Southern heat.

State representative Steve McDaniel was the master of ceremonies. The program was long, but moved along nicely.

People speaking were the Governor Phil Bredesen, Rep. Marsha Blackbourn, the House Speaker, and Senate leader. Also the presidents of the state Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy.

I must say here that this was the most politically incorrect meeting I have been to in a very long time. It even concluded with the playing and singing of Dixie. I thought the emphasis would be equally on the Unionists and the Confederates but it was almost all Confederate. Only the featured speaker, a historian, gave equal time. I am now a little confused as to the meaning of the monument. I had thought it would be to all who fought from Tennessee but even the statue itself has a confederate flag.

After the program started, I sat on the ground. I could not see the speakers but could hear them clearly.

The statue was unveiled by some of the "children of Tennessee" in the audience. It shows a soldier standing upright, a wounded soldier on the ground, and a soldier taking the flag from the wounded soldier. It is named Passing of Honor. The statue is made of metal, bronze or brass or something, and is 14 feet high. It is the largest monument dedicated there in almost 90 years.

After the dedication we went back to the Park Headquarters to a reception they had in a tent on the grounds. The food was good.

I had thought that the dignitaries would be there but no one showed up except the Park Superintendent. I had intended to ask Marsha Blackbourn if, as a fellow alumnus of Mississippi State, all those Rebel flags made her a little uncomfortable.

On the way back Frankie was fiddling with the radio. I heard one word and knew he had found Jim Ellis broadcasting the MSU game in the regional from Coral Gables, FL. I had gone to Shiloh knowing this game was a slam dunk. It was, the score then was 10-2. We only got reception briefly but the final was MSU 12-Florida Atlantic 2. Today at 6 we face the number one seed Miami.

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