Question bugging me lately: What is a Conservative? Or maybe the better question is: what is Conservative? I'm talking about ideals, philosophies, principles, convictions, you name it. What is it that makes someone or something conservative?
I'm asking this question for a good reason. I want to know the answer.
I'd like to announce that I'm doing a series on this topic and that my next several posts will be on that subject. But if you've read this blog much you know that's an unrealistic claim. I'll get distracted and run something else and then revisit this conundrum when it comes back up.
I'm going to compare two scenarios in this installment. I'm asking that you read both with an open mind and consider the consequences of each one. I'm not asking anyone to change one inch of what they believe. It's not an attempt to persuade anyone to change political factions. If anything, it is an opportunity to look at our own beliefs and shore them up stronger and give and honest assessment of what we do and do not accept in our worldview.
Dateline, last summer, Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney World, Epcot. The conundrum begins in the line waiting to board Mission Space-Green Team. My teammate is 9 years old and is opting for "less-intense" training. In the bigger picture we're visiting on the-weekend-that-shall-not-be-named in an attempt to find smaller crowds by visiting the parks not affected by the infamous event's planned activities. It has worked like a charm. All of the red-shirted event attendees are elsewhere and crowds are pretty light.
But then we get called into the staging area and we're waiting on Gary Sinise to come on our screen and give us our flight instructions. I notice that two teams over stands two men in red shirts and a little girl. My first thought is that the red-shirt event was scheduled for Magic Kingdom and it was odd to see them at Epcot. But then I realized that 1) Epcot is only a short monorail ride and a park hopper pass from Magic Kingdom and 2) I'm committing a primary-level Southern faux pas. Staring. Realizing the error of my way, I offer a polite smile and a nod of greeting to the poor guy that was obviously suffering from stage fright. But I couldn't help but notice that these two men were standing in line just like me. They were talking with their child, just like I was. It was nothing like the footage of the pride parades I'd seen on TV. Just a family waiting in line for a ride at Disney World. Not a family exactly like mine but interestingly similar.
Fast forward about seven months.
My wife and I have escaped the real world for a romantic weekend getaway to, you guessed it, Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney World, Epcot. For this part of the conundrum we're at the Morocco Pavilion at the World Showcase - what Google Maps tells me is a 0.7 mile 13-minute walk from the first event.
The situation seems farther away than that.
We're walking through the themed area, shopping and getting our photo taken with Aladdin and Jasmine...you know, Disney stuff. As we walk around the corner we see a couple sitting on a bench. Well, he was sitting on the bench. She was sitting on him, straddling his lap. I guess it could be called sitting. It was more like gyrating like she was auditioning for a Miley Cyrus video or something. They were Siamese twins, conjoined at the lips and tongues. And they appeared to be searching for each other's body for hidden objects or something Right there in front of Walt and everyone. Several other couples were scattering, laughing, gagging, and screaming appropriate things like "hide the kids" or "don't look Ethyl" or "did someone tell them this is a family place?"
So there it was. A man and a woman, a "traditional" relationship. Like Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
Thank God for fig leaves.
So here's my conundrum. Modern conservatism tells me that the first couple is not acceptable under any circumstances. The second one is fine after a stern 'get a room". My nine-year-old was not the least bit fazed by the first occurrence. I'm very thankful that he missed out on the second one. Which one would have been a bigger threat to my values that I've instilled in my son? Which one represented the acceptable way for a couple to behave in such a place? Which one was conservative? Keeping in mind that CONSERVative is literally the conservation of traditional values, mores and actions.
I'm not condoning or asking you to condone anything. but I think I make a valid point that what goes on in the open is a much greater threat to society than what goes on behind closed doors. And I think I'm comfortable saying that a heterosexual public grope-a-thon (or perhaps even a Republican politician that's been married 4 or 5 times) is a bigger threat to the institution of marriage than two men standing peacefully in line waiting to ride Mission Space with their child.
I hope you can agree with that assessment.
I'm fine with being conservative. I've been that way all my life. But if we're going to do it, let's do it right. Let's be honest about what threatens our values and make sure that we are making the right demands and holding the right people accountable for fulfilling them.
Many of my posts over the last few years have been about the events and times surrounding the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. This week that commemoration came really close to home. By close I mean right through my yard.
This week I thought about it a lot. More than normal. Because it was on my mind, I was able to visualize things that I normally don't think about. A quick trip to the store, driving to work, letting my kids play in the yard or an outing for ice cream and a walk along the river. None of these would be possible 150 years ago this week for fear of being harassed or captured by Union soldiers or perhaps even being caught in a deadly crossfire and killed...or worse, The carnage of war, the threat of collateral damage, and the destruction and confiscation of personal private property had reached my community. It wasn't in a newspaper or a letter from the front. It was in the valleys all around this area.
Sherman had arrived.
While Sherman himself was not knocking at the city gates, many of his subordinates were. Ironically led by Jefferson C. Davis, the Union force tried to outflank Johnston's retreat from Resaca. Their path carried them through Floyd Springs (where A.H. Stephens had spoken against secession just 3 1/2 years previous) and then, on May 15th, to Farmer's Bridge at Armuchee Creek. Davis had been told that this was an Oostanaula River crossing. He found it to be a creek crossing and that Georgia creeks can be a bit larger than what many folks call a creek. He also found Company G, 12th Alabama Cavalry, who had plans that didn't involve a Union creek crossing.
Company G, led by Capt. William Lokey, was comprised of about 50 men. Most of these men were newcomers and had seen little action. The Alabama boys ignored initial orders to retreat and held firm on the south bank of the creek. They fired upon 3 regiments of Union soldiers in what could be considered far more crazy than brave. Their courage is commendable but their attempt at Thermopylae wasn't much more successful than its predecessor. The vastly superior numbers would flank the Company by sending men well up and downstream and fording the creek. The Johnnies found themselves confronted on three sides. Capt. Lokey and nine of his men were killed, and six were captured. Three of the captured soldiers were wounded and therefore released. The other three were carried to Union prison camps where, predictably, they perished.
Company G would fall back to DeSoto Hill and then to Rome before all Confederate forces in the city were called to join Johnston in Cassville to oppose Sherman's lines there. Davis would reach DeSoto Hill on the 17th and then meet the token defense put up by Confederate forces. On May 18th, Jefferson C. Davis, with his musicians playing an arrangement of Dixie, marched across the bridge at 3rd Avenue and captured Rome. Georgia for the Union a year to the month after the attempt by Abel Streight was thwarted by Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Forrest had been reassigned to Tennessee after threatening to kill Braxton Bragg after Chickamauga.)
Davis would remain in Rome until the 24th when he would move towards Dallas in Paulding County.
Rome would remain in Union control for the remainder of the war. In November it would become the first city burned in the March to the Sea.
Casualties from Company G at Farmer's Bridge:
Killed in action, buried at Farmer's Bridge: Capt. William T. Lokey, Pvt. B. Brown, Pvt. A.D. Turren, Pvt. P. W. Ward, Pvt. J.J. Morgan, Pvt. Benjamin Garrett, Pvt. Cullen Porter, Pvt. Benjamin Porter, Pvt. W.H. Ellis, Pvt. Thomas Barnard,
Captured, died in U.S. Military Prison, Alton Illinois: Pvt. Joel Weems, Pvt. Edwin P. Morris
Captured, died in Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois: Pvt. Joseph B. Harper
Captured wounded and released: Pvt. J. Brown, Pvt. J.M. Robertson, Pvt. Marcus L. Formby
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire