This is my son. I describe his eye color as ‘sunlight through Vermont Maple Syrup” the last image is my favorite because you can see his dimples are big enough to park a boat in. Henry is a total mutt-a Yankee, Jewish, Democrat, artist, photographer mom & a Southern, Catholic, Republican, engineer/sales dad.
I titled these photos ‘Union Soldiers in Alabama’ because of a story he told me in the car after i picked him up from school. He was learning about the civil war at school, amazingly this coincided with a father/son Boy Scout campout in Selma. The Boy Scouts went to Selma, Alabama to watch the reenactment (150th anniversary) of the Battle of Selma.
We are in the car, driving to my daughter’s school, to pick her up. Henry is talking, without breathing, of all that he had seen at the reenactment…it went something like this, “andthentheyburneddownarealhouseandtheybuildthishouseeveryyearandiknowtheybuildstuffinsideitbecauseicouldseestairs” i’ve learned to pick up on keywords, like maybe every third word, to understand what he is talking about…when he is this excited about something. Two words popped up that made me stop him & repeat what i thought i had heard.
“Wait, what did you just say?”
“We won” he said.
“Wait, Henry, what do you mean we won? The Union won, not the Rebels” I say.
“I KNOW, mom” he says with an eye roll, i didn’t see it, but i heard them roll.
“But why would you say, We won? Do you consider yourself a Yankee??” i ask.
“I guess, i mean, i understand the law about states rights to secede, the South was right about that, but I believe Abraham Lincoln was right, i mean…morally right, to fight the South’s reasons for doing so, it was wrong. All men are created equal, but the Southern states didn’t think so. The Southern states wanted to own people” he said (to the best of my recollection)
Then he went on about the battle & what happened. He said people came from all over the U.S. to participate in the event.
He said all the guys got to go shopping & he bought a Union soldier’s hat. I asked him what did his dad say about that.
“Dad said i bought the wrong hat” he answered
“What did you tell him?” I ask
“I said, ‘no i didn’t'” he says. “but mom, almost all the boys bought Union hats, i mean, who bought hats”
Is it human nature to divide people into sides? Race, religion, politics, rich vs poor, men vs women
& in Alabama, Alabama vs Auburn (football)–
It was/is a culture shock to grow up in Vermont & move to Alabama. The first question people asked me, after finding out that i wasn’t from here was “Alabama or Auburn?” (i didnt know what they were talking about, so i said, Alabama b/c it seemed the safest choice) Alabama loves college football. It is a loaded question because i never know who they are for. Whether you are for Alabama or Auburn, it seems a requirement that you must HATE the other team. I still have a hard time with the passionate HATING. Maybe it is the one thing people feel safe enough to hate openly. Henry goes for Alabama (football team), but he wants (for now) to go to Auburn because he wants to be an architect. (God Bless Legos) He tells me it’s ok to like a college football team, but to go to a different college. yes, it is.
i’ve lived in Birmingham, Alabama for over half my life now. I’ve come to find a lot i love about living here. I will be honest in my hatred for the entire month of August. (I think that is when Hell rises a little closer to the surface) i love February (because it can be 15 degrees or 70 from one day to the next) and i love the shopping.
about the shopping…there is a lot of Southern Pride merchandise. Everywhere. Ive never seen Northern Pride merchandise anywhere, ever. Southern Pride feels too much like wounded pride, a defensiveness about being Southern. It brings to mind, the Civil War…it has to be about that, doesn’t it? I was in a store that was filled with Southern Pride stuff & i found a wallet that said,
“Let there be Peace & let it begin with me” i bought it.
I’m proud of my son. For him, it wasn’t about North vs South, it was an educated choice based on what he thought was morally right.