Sunday, August 5, 2007

An interesting dichotomy...

t's weird how things progress in life. Today is yet one example.

I'm in Pennsylvania right now. When I got into Hanover, I stopped at a convenience store. The clerk who helped me was quite pleasant, but he was wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle. I found this offensive. I refrained from pointing out to him that, no matter how you slice it, Pennsylvania was never a part of the Confederacy. I was still offended. I pondered writing a note to the company suggesting that they revise their dress code guidelines.

Now, six hours later, I find myself in posession of interesting information. As many of you know, I am about halfway through a Masters program that is costing me a significant amount of money. A few hours ago, my mother handed me a family history document that proves that several of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy, to the point that their unit was called "The Osborne's Ford Independents." My grandfather's mother's maiden name was Osborne.

This does not come as a huge shock to me. While my father's family is from Iowa, and was notably absent during the Civil War (family history tells us that a distant Kelly ancestor hid in the barn to avoid being conscripted by the Union army), my mother's family is from southern Virginia. When I have visited the towns my grandparents came from, I have heard people--including my relatives--refer to the War. There is no doubt that this word is said with a capital letter, and there is no doubt to which war they are referring.

What is my point here?

The Daughters of the Confederacy offer a scholarship to those who can prove that a direct ancestor fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War. At this point, I don't know that I could prove that; from what I have in my hands it looks like my great-great-great uncles were the ones who fought, and my great-great-great grandfather was not involved. However, this family history covers only one branch of my family tree; I suspect that were I to investigate further I could find at least one direct ancestor who was a Confederate soldier. I don't know that I care to do that.

Were these two things to happen separately, I don't know that I would have taken much notice of either, but because both happened on the same day it's made me think. What would I do for money? If the document that I now hold in my hands definitively proved that one of my ancestors was a Confederate soldier, would I use that to get a scholarship? I certainly don't believe in their cause. While I've lived below the Mason-Dixon line for most of my life, I certainly don't consider myself a southerner (anyone who would like to hear my monologue on the fact that Maryland is NOT a Southern state is free to call me) but could I fake it?

Not sure. I'll get back to you.

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