Before It's Too Late
There's a plan to remove a Confederate monument and I needed to get there before it was gone.
A few years ago, I wrote this piece on the 54th Massachusetts, the second African-American regiment of the Civil War, which inspired the movie Glory. I love the movie Glory, and the scene before the battle at Fort Wagner made a big impression on me when it was first released.
A few months after I published Glory Be!, I promoted it on Twitter, back when Twitter was only mildly annoying. It was there that I discovered Kevin Levin, an actual historian who focuses on the Civil War.
Feeling brave, I tweeted Kevin with my piece, and he politely told me how bad my takes were. He might have missed the joke that I wasn’t saying Matthew Broderick actually commanded troops, including Denzel Washington, and ultimately tried to take a Confederate fort. Still, he did provide some fascinating insight about the life of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw that I hadn’t known, and the movie obviously didn’t portray. If you scroll to the bottom of Glory Be!, you can see the two corrections Mr. Levin made.
I wish I had kept the tweets – but suffice it to say, I remember our exchange with great appreciation for him reading my piece; Kevin most likely moved on. It’s okay.
Since then, I have subscribed to his Civil War Memory Newsletter as a paid member. This affords me the wonderful interviews he conducts, including a recent one with Dr. Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point. Dr. Seidule is the type of historian I like. He made this viral video on the Lost Cause. It’s awesome and got me all fired up!
The interview between Kevin and Dr. Seidule focused on the work Dr. Seidule is completing on the National Commission of Base Renaming, which will correct the wrongs of memorializing Confederates at eleven of our military institutions. It was a fascinating hour of education, and I totally nerded out.2
One memorial that was brought up was the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. What caught my attention was the statement that the monument would soon be removed.
This is my story.