I’ve been in Tennessee and Mississippi the last few days, where my waitress at Sonic in Corinth rolled out on skates, her name was Faith, she’s going to be a senior in high school and has a fiance. Mississippi Public Radio’s follow-on to Garrison Keillor is a variety show promising to be “so good it will make you want to get on your mule and go to town,” and is broadcast from Oxford, Faulkner’s home.
The war looks different from down here. A country song made me think about it. I heard “Have You Forgotten?” on the local station in Jackson, Tennessee.
Darryl Worley, from Pyburn, Tennessee, grandson of a moonshiner, wrote and sings the song, which says, “Have you forgotten how it felt that day, to see your homeland under fire and her people blown away? Have you forgotten when those towers fell, we had neighbors still inside going through a living hell? And you say we shouldn’t worry ’bout Bin Laden — have you forgotten?” Another verse says, “What about our freedom and this piece of ground, we didn’t get to keep ’em by backing down.”
The South is military. The South is rural. The South is patriotic. Broad generalizations, and I don’t want to be condescending to either the rural South or the urban North. But in the South, if your country calls, you go. You serve. And you have faith that your leaders know what they’re doing.
So it must hurt a lot of people down here when those against the war seem to be against the troops and against the country. Against what they believe so deeply in, and have for generations.
That’s one of many great tragedies of this war. It’s billed as a defense of the homeland. Who could be against that? But it’s splitting us at home.
Those of us who oppose the war believe it is the wrong war in the wrong place, mistaken in conception and monstrously imcompetently waged. We also want to defend the homeland, and wish the battle had been finished in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden was. Bush/Cheney’s catastrophic war in Iraq has made America so much less safe, we feel.
But here, if your country calls (The United States, then the Confederacy, and now again the U.S.) you serve.
We against the war agonize as we watch things fall apart. And those here supporting the war may agonize too as they feel their patriotism affronted by our views.
We think we’re right, but we have to listen to the radio stations of those who feel we’re wrong. And we have to feel compassion for the way they see the world, or this country will fall into the widening gap of our lack of understanding of one another. It’s happened before, as the historic Civil War markers along every road here testify.
Here’s the song — at a site where you can order American flags.