Confederate Memorial Day 2009, Woodlawn Cemetery, Independence Missouri

Below is the keynote address given on Confederate Memorial Day April 26, 2009 at Woodlawn Cemetery, Independence, Missouri.

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen:

I'm pleased to be here today to say a few words to you about the Confederate Memorial Day, which, as you know, falls on different days than the ordinary Memorial Day ceremonies observed by people we sometimes refer to as "Northerners" or "Yankees." You know, also, that there is a debate about who started Memorial Day, and Southerners have a right to claim the observance for themselves. But Memorial Day arose in a lot of different places, at about the same time, almost spontaneously. Commemorating that day was a deeply felt, emotional response by the people of this country to one of the bloodiest, cruelest, and costliest wars on record.

Most histories portray the war by the North against the South as a righteous struggle against slavery. But most of you here know that slavery, at the outbreak of the Civil War, was only a side issue. The main issue of that war was that the South did not want to be part of a government and nation dominated in the North by abolitionist fanatics and what they considered selfish power mongers, and they believed that the Constitution and the original agreements signed at the forming of our nation and agreed upon by representatives of the various American colonies did not preclude the South from exiting the United States if its interests were violated and forming its own nation.

A struggle ensued in which more than 600,000 Americans were killed, either in battle or through disease or other deadly conditions. Thus, in the Civil War more men were killed than in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War combined-and almost as many deaths as in all the wars this country ever fought.

But it was much worse than it appears. What is not emphasized, usually, is that the population of the United States today is ten times larger than it was in 1861-303 million to 30 million. Thus, the war was simply a horrendous blood bath in a country much, much smaller then than now. What is more, the North was considerably industrialized, which gave it a tremendous advantage over the South, which was largely agrarian. Moreover, the population of whites in the north was three times that in the South. So the Southerners fought a fight outnumbered 3 to 1 in manpower. Yet in the great early battles, the South defeated the Northern armies repeatedly until the North's numbers of men and resources eventually wore away at the South's strength, and it was finally defeated by a "total war" philosophy of fighting, where the South's industrial capacity was attacked, its homes and farms and businesses were burned, and a head-to-head bloody attrition war finally became Grant's vaunted legacy, a type of war that always reflects impoverished tactics. Ultimately, the two armies just lined up and blazed and pounded away at each other. It was an unimaginative type of war by the North, but it worked-necessarily. But the cost of the war, in deaths and injuries on both sides, was just awful, horrifying. It was Lincoln's desperate means of obtaining victory at any cost. The Civil War was won by the North at the price of gigantic mounds of dead, precious soldiers, Northern and Southern ones.

The North won the shooting war, occupied the South, installed black legislatures in many of the state governments, and forbid Southern men to vote, disenfranchised nearly all of them. Finally, in self-defense, the Southerners banded together and slowly ejected the carpetbaggers out of the South and took control of their area again. I'd call this the Second Civil War, and the North didn't win it, either. It's not mentioned in Northern histories in these unflattering terms, but that's the way it was.  

Today, the North still attempts to dominate the South. It does so through its TV media outlets, movies, musical compositions, and though the educational system of the South, which is dominated, I can guarantee you, by liberal professors in the major universities. Through using the educational system to indoctrinate Southern children and college adults, the North has made major inroads into the South and its distinctive culture. When I published my book, Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, I called a large number of bookstores in the South promoting my book. Out of scores of phone calls I made, only one or two people answered the phones with a Southern accent.
But the Southern way of thinking still remains alive. And meanwhile, no one knows what the future holds for this continuing struggle for the hearts and minds of Southern people. Currently, the central government of the United States is manifesting mismanagement of the most severe kind. It has been running up the national debt to astronomical levels, while at the same time inventing new and extremely expensive spending programs, one after the other, with more planned for the near future. The Chinese, at present, hold at least 2 trillion dollars in Treasury bills printed by our central government, and Japan holds nearly the same amount. Other countries hold their share of our T-bills, also. In all we owe others between 10-12 trillion dollars, and with the Federal government's current spending, the U.S. Treasury is certain to be printing more and more money in huge quantities that will create inflation, another form of taxation if your salary doesn't keep up with it.

So, it's not inconceivable that this country, some day will separate, again, into several parts, just as did Soviet Russia only a few years ago, through mismanagement, which split their country into various pieces. Today, like the South before the Civil War, we face a central government that is TOO BIG FOR OUR BRITCHES. This should give us a better appreciation for how the South felt about its national government from the late 1850s through the Civil War years and beyond.

We are here today to honor the men who fought for the Confederacy against a central government that held aims they could not agree with and that they were not going to abide by. They gave their full devotion to their native area-Missouri and the Southern parts of the United States-against an encroaching Northern government newly ruled by ruthless and fanatical abolitionists. We experienced these fanatics in Missouri, where they banished nearly all of our people in the area where we live, stole their grain and livestock, burned their houses and barns, killed their sons, and imprisoned some of their daughters.     

A number of these sons are buried in this cemetery. I saw guerrilla Lieutenant George Todd's gravestone immediately beside one of the roads leading into this cemetery. He died fighting against Union troops within a few miles of where his body now lies. He died for a noble cause and has been maligned ever since in Yankee histories of our area. He has been called a thief, a demon, and the wildest charges that devious Yankee minds could conjure. But he is here as is many of his Confederate brothers. And we are here today, also, to show our respect to him and all the other young and older men who fought in the regular Southern Army and in the guerrilla contingents of William Clarke Quantrill.

Today, we are here to show our respect to all these Southern men who put their lives at stake to protect the values they held to be noble and worthy. Their sacrifice was not in vain. We respect and revere each and every one of them. They exhibited that fierce determination that Southern fighting men have always been noted for. At the outset of the Civil War, during the First Battle of Manassas (called First Bull Run in the North), young ladies and their swains drove out from Washington to see the Union Army crush the Confederate Army. Before the day was through, though, a huge throng of fleeing people, the young ladies included, glutted the roads running to Washington, clogging up the avenues of escape needed by the panicked Yankee soldiers escaping the wrath and might of the Confederate Army. The South eventually lost the Civil War. But it never lost its honor in that struggle. As the Southern men who fought and died in the Civil War knew: honor is sometimes worth more than one's life. We, in turn, honor these men in our hearts and demonstrate for them today that we appreciate their sacrifice. Some of us have laid flowers and other tokens of our love and respect on their graves as small remembrances of their sacrifices. They were great men, every one of them. The Confederate memorial inside Woodlawn cemetery, is one of the earliest dedicated in the country,

Donald L.Gilmore ©2009 Quantrillsguerrillas.com "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and or image." NOTE: The Confederate memorial inside Woodlawn cemetery, which was dedicated in 1924, one of the earliest in the country.  Below is an image taken during the decidation of that memorial.                



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