Some folks have probably wondered why I have not yet commented on all of the ink being spilt regarding Union County’s Weary Clyburn. I had a chance to attend the memorial service a couple of weeks ago for Mr. Clyburn, but chose not to. I did have the opportunity to talk with the family.
Since several other very thoughtful and intelligent writers have already presented excellent articles on this subject, I don’t wish to become a mere redundancy. It is exciting to see lively and respectful debate between smart, creative individuals. I only have one concern that has not already been nicely handled by some of my distinguished colleagues. My position on the matter of blacks, both slave and free, serving within the Confederate army is simple. Were there tens of thousands of black Confederates? No. Were there some? Yes. If you have kept up with my blogging over the past year and a half, you know of my own researching into the matter, namely the story of the Cousins brothers.
What puzzles me is this: we honor those who were conscripted to fight (and did so honorably) in both the Confederate and Union armies. We honor those who were drafted into the service for other wars, like WWII and Vietnam. Why should we not honor those who were camp servants, teamsters, cooks, etc? The tens of thousands who were drafted and sent overseas to fight in Vietnam did not want to be there. They were forced into the service, yet we engrave their names (and rightfully so) on the same wall as those who volunteered and were killed. What is the difference? I don’t imagine that any of us today will be able to come up with an easy answer to this complex problem, but it does stem from a heartfelt passion that motivates many individuals and groups: to see that all veterans, regardless of the level of their service or even their means of entering such service, are recognized and remembered for their sacrifices.