"We have made progress. There is still work to do." - Carlos Guiterrez
I love the NY Times... I buy into it's place in our world as the paper of record and I especially love the Travel Section. Since I'm all into travel and dreaming of seeing exotic places and yummy restaurants and lovely beaches and all that comes with that. So I pull up today's edition and I'm delighted to see the title, "36 Hours in Charleston, SC". Especially since my travel companions and I are discussing a trip to the fair city of magnolia and moonlight. So I click on the article, excited to share their suggestions with my buddies, and what does it start with?
A SENTENCE ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR... SERIOUSLY?
I am southern born and bred... generations going back to the times of verandas, mint juleps, and slavery. Granted, my ancestors were the white trash on the wrong side of the tracks but we were here, gosh darn it. I have an accent... I tell people I'm fixin' to do something... I like sweet tea and biscuits... I know how to make a pecan pie... I dress for church, showers, teas and football games... I eat fried chicken when I go to my grandmommy's house... I eat peaches, pecans, and peanuts in various forms... I revere Vidalia onions (and I know how to pronounce it correctly)... I ask people "how's your momaenthem"
BUT NOT ONCE, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER IN MY LIFE have I worried about the Civil War, contested it's outcome, or even thought the South was wise in their stance. I was taught differently and I was also taught not to live in the past. As were my friends... and sisters... and classmates. Very rarely will you run across a relic who participates in the re-enactments of the war battles or who knew their families role in the war. The rest of us? The South which still lives strong? We have MOVED ON...
And guess what? We'd like the rest of the nation to acknowledge that fact... Instead of prefacing every positive article about the south with a reference to that blip on the timeline of our country, how about you just acknowledge the positive and we have good things down here. Talented people and wonderful places worthy of visiting and experiencing... Delicious food, talented sports teams, temperate weather, beautiful beaches, good music, and yes, fabulous restaurants with chefs worthy of national recognition. You can give us that without mentioning the civil war, we'll let you. Without mentioning the Civil War, which by the way, was fought on both sides of the Mason Dixon... And we'll even thank you and tell ya'll to come on back now, ya hear?
How would you like it, if everytime we wrote about NYC, we mentioned the dirt or the gangs of New York ? Or everytime we wrote about Boston, we brought up the Tea Party or the weather or the war of 1812? Would it make sense to you? So much has happened since the Civil War and, like I've already said... We've moved on.
Charleston is one of the most visited cities because it's done a great job of preserving the beautiful and intricate architecture of a different time... it hasn't done this to aggressively preserve a past or a history that it should let go of, at least not any more than Paris or Brussels or Prague or San Francisco or any other of the great cities of our world. Charleston (and several other southern cities... Savannah, New Orleans, St. Augustine to name a few) maintain walkable cities and place importance on preservation rather than destruction and the latest fad. It's not a reach back or an attempt to live in the past but living with the future in mind and living in a sustainable way. So feel free to write about it or any other southern city with grace and confidence knowing we've all acknowledge the history of these cities and we're looking brightly to the future of our cities, our states and our nation as a whole.