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Khirad On August - 28 - 2010

My trip in April had initially been planned as a D.C. trip, and a predominant amount of time was spent in our nation’s capital and traditionally defined Mid-Atlantic states. In a loop around these states I did make a jaunt through the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I started this series, I had not yet decided if I would do the whole thing, so if there be any lingering criticism of my title, know the following. I could have gone straight from Charlottesville to the Historic Triangle. But, I was looking for an overall Southern experience. Indeed, when I first visited Arlington National Cemetery, though it be in the Beltway, I got a little thrill to be setting foot on Southern soil and seeing Lee’s mansion (silly did I feel when it registered that Reagan airport is in Virginia).

The following may indeed be controversial in its own right and some images deemed offensive. It is not out of romanticization, but a fascination with history, and even the culturally taboo, as well as the burden of my own partial Southern Identity (to borrow from the title of C. Vann Woodward’s book) that took me to Richmond – particularly those sites most connected with the Confederacy.

Upon entering Richmond, I must say that it has probably seen better days. The virtual segregation was also very apparent. Of course, having been through D.C. and Baltimore, this is not only a Southern legacy, nor is it limited to the East Coast. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, being in the South, there was just a different, palpable feel to driving through the black neighborhoods. Maybe it was because of my own preconceived prejudices towards images of the South (much has changed dramatically, after all), but I wondered just how much has really changed. Indeed, race and socioeconomics are not just a Southern problem. But, in a black majority city such as Richmond, I can’t help but wonder why it took until 1993 to change the city flag from this.

My first stop was Hollywood Cemetery. One of my favorite sites in the whole trip. It was like it was taken right out of a Gothic novel.

There was a distinct Southern character to it.

I could think of few more peaceful scenes to spend my eternal repose.

While some may rightfully see mausolea as the height of human vanity and cemeteries as a waste of space, I view cemeteries as parks of a sort, and mausoleums, like this, can even be cute.

This was my favorite. I especially liked the touch of purple ribbons on the wreaths.

They can also be more dramatic.

Or Art Deco.

President John Tyler’s grave.

Possibly the coolest presidential final resting place ever. President James Monroe, I like your style.

Both presidents were interred near each other, as this shot shows.

This is how epitaphs were meant to be written. “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

The whole section was striking.

Turning around from this view, towards James River. As a kid, every school morning I passed over this bridge showing what was then the James River paper mill. Though part of (Koch brother owned) Georgia-Pacific now, I will always think of that slough as James River, stubbornly lodged in my head from foggy childhood memories.

This one of Lewis Ginter, had its own sundial in front, with manicured hedges and even a little bench and pathway under a shade tree to its left.

The stained glass window was a nice touch, too.

I mean, c’mon, how is this not totally awesome?! (by now it being firmly established I am totally weird)

I saw a lot of family names in this cemetery. More so than in any other I’ve ever been to. Not actual relations, but owing to the concentration of Scots-Irish and English in the South, lots of familiar surnames. My paternal grandmother’s and mother’s maiden names I saw numerous times dotting the cemetery. And, let’s just say they aren’t Smith or Johnson. Unfortunately, I never saw them etched into stone as extravagant as these:

The last picture is on Davis Avenue, so whose grave do you suppose we’ll see next?

Yup, that’s right.

On the front of the pedestal is “Jefferson Davis./At Rest./An American Soldier./And Defender of the Constitution.” This goes on to list his congressional, cabinet level and military career in the US government. Here is what is on the reverse. Gotta love that verse about being persecuted, right?

A view of Richmond.

And not far from this spot, turning around. The flag in the foreground marks Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, I presume. In the background, the Davis family section.

Margaret Howell Davis Hayes. She is the only one to have children (or at least marry) and thus heirs to Jefferson Davis, I think. Also, another really damn cool monument, æsthetically speaking. To the rear, on the book’s spine, reads PAX.

You know, I just hate people. Can’t stand ’em. Groups especially. And, in this case, a stupid church group in a local Baptist van. Being local, and likely Southern Baptist, made me wonder as to the intent of their visit to this fine location, but my bigger immediate concern was that they totally ruined my shot. I kept biding time, but they just wouldn’t leave. No, they had to have a picnic and run in and out of my shots. I mean, they showed up right after I did, and there was no one else there. It was as if they were sent just to bug me. And furthermore. I can understand people’s lack of concern for others, but they too had cameras. There was no designated parking. There was nobody else parked there and plenty of space. I parked down a bit and *gasp* walked (God bless our drive-thru culture). Why the hell couldn’t you move your damn van 15 feet out of your own shot, and mine as well? Fer chrissakes. God, I hate people.

So, the only full-ish shot of this section I have looks like this.

A side view. Oh, and thanks for the bumper in my shot.

Varina “Winnie” Anne Davis. The Daughter of the Confederacy. So called as she was born in 1864 (also the same year that they lost their son, Joseph, whom fell to his death at the age of five and is buried feet away).

I’m not quite sure where to put this on my cute<–>creepy continuüm.

This was definitely gratuitous, though. It’s because of this kind of crap that I’ll never join you guys, you know. Preserve what there is, fine, but let it go.

The Blood Stained Banner enhanced for visual effect.

Confederate Officer’s Section.

Jewish Confederate memorial. If this seems odd, remember Judah P. Benjamin, for one.

The Confederate Memorial Pyramid, dedicated to the 18,000 confederate dead buried in the Confederate section of Hollywood in 1869. In Latin was written “numini et patriæ asto” ([they] stood for God and Country). I never checked the back of the pyramid. Somehow, though, I imagine in Latin is surreptitiously written “meridies iterum orietur.”

A view from the distance.

I regret missing J.E.B. Stuart, who was by himself in the middle of the cemetery, but here’s Pickett.

To the left, a shot with the Bonnie Blue (Listen to the Bonnie Blue song). Unlike the Bonnie Blue, another flag which took some researching to identify was ubiquitous, save for the more numerous Virginia flags. I’d guessed what it was based on its pattern. Ironically, it is its post-war form, which like the Lone Star Flag of Texas, incorporates the Bonnie Blue (remember that the Bonnie Blue is the secession flag). Another irony. The limited government which it represents bears resemblance to the flag of modern Libertarian Paradise, Somalia.

A scene of the Confederate section.

It took me a while to figure this out until I read the gravestone. He was the color bearer.

The flying in City Parks, even Lee Squares, and especially state Capitols I disagree with. But, I will defend the Confederate battle flag in this context. One might ask if it is akin to flying the Nazi flag in German WWII cemeteries (which I have debated in my own mind), but I think when it comes to the Confederate battle flag, this is acceptable. I may not agree with the cause they fought for, but this was the country they died for. I’m not passionate about this. I just think this form is understandable.

The Lost Cause mentality can make me roll my eyes though. This typifies it.

The White House of the Confederacy, fittingly, actually gray.

From the front.

And the back. The tour starts where you see the light, under the porch to the right. The slave quarters. The rest of the house is restored to the period impressively. The right side is where Joesph fell to his death. On the tour, and since, I’ve also found Varina Davis to be an interesting, almost redemptive character. The tour guide, though, laid it on thick about how great Jefferson Davis was. (She struck me as UDC socialite material, though I have the UDC pin of my grandma’s, who was by no means someone who put on airs.) What I did find interesting about him was how nearly anorexic Davis was during the war. If he looks gaunt in photos, it is because he was. With tragic deaths of children, and personal health, the war took a toll on Davis as it did with Lincoln.

Right next to the White House of the Confederacy is the Museum of the Confederacy. I must say I hung my head in awkward shame as I entered and saw black families walk past down the street. But, if you can handle being uncomfortable at times, I recommend it. Think of it like the Nazi exhibition in the Holocaust Museum (though as the Spike Lee mockumentary on the CSA grimly points out, the CSA would have thought it a waste to mass murder possible human chattel). It is a modest entrance fee, and for a little extra includes a tour of the Confederate White House. Inside are artifacts of all sorts. I walked in expecting far more glorification than I found. Mind, you, they still tried to show the Confederacy in a positive-ish light, but did touch on uncomfortable truths (again, I’m merely saying it was more evenhanded than I expected. I never did expect dispassionate objectivity). What was more creepy were some of the visitors trying to “correct” such things (how many times can one hear that the South would have eventually abolished slavery on its own? –Never mind the CSA Constitution expressly prohibited that from happening). Like, a father with his teen daughter, her pen and pad out and he regaling her with the feats of the generals and campaigns. They were visiting from Alabama, I overheard. Others, like me,  were there more out of curiosity than zeal. Of personal interest to me was the display of the New Mexico and Arizona campaign. Often forgotten is that southern Arizona and New Mexico were briefly part of the CSA, and were represented until the dissolution of the Confederate Congress at the end of the war. A minor skirmish of the Civil War was even fought north of Tucson. So, to say I’d never stepped on Southern soil wasn’t technically true! [Fun fact time: the official date of statehood for Arizona on February 14, 1912 was chosen to commemorate the the fiftieth anniversary of its admission to the Confederacy on February 14, 1862. Is Arizona, MLK and SB 1070 starting to make more sense now?]

My visit also happened to coincide with Confederate History Month. Oh joy. But, like I said, they made an attempt to address the controversy and present both sides.

Wartime effects of J.E.B. Stuart. Also, there was the frock of Hood, etc. If it was Confederate, they had it.

Frock and ceremonial sword of General Lee worn at Appomattox.

This was what Jefferson Davis was wearing when captured.

This was the flag draped over Jefferson Davis’ casket.

The ceiling had all flags associated with the Confederacy hanging, including one or two I still can’t identify. In the background here, fourth from the left, one can make out the Vand Dorn flag. Also, another good chance to compare the Stars and Bars proper with the current flag of Georgia.

The Great Seal of the CSA. Engraved in London, it finally reached Richmond shortly before the city had to be evacuated in 1865.

Two blocks away is where the Confederate Congress met, the Virginia State Capitol (minus the wings).

What didn’t Thomas Jefferson help design in Virginia? I’ve seen a few state capitols. This was the most striking to walk up to. It really did seem just as fitting a national capitol, as a state capitol.

Behind the capitol, some statues of Virginians. Washington.

Stonewall Jackson.

In this statuary time line of Virginian history, hope for the future.

My biggest regret, as I was not staying the night and had to move on, was not having time to find Monument Avenue, but at least I left on a good note.

Speaking of notes; two songs, contradictory as they might be, apropos to this photo essay (can I call it that?).

Rebel Son – Bury Me in Southern Ground

But then again, when it comes to making a big deal about Confederate History Month, honoring Davis’ 200th Birthday, sneaky state flag changes, continued whining about the NAACP, and petty neo-Confederate crap…

Oh, and don’t think that song just applies to the War of Northern Aggression. A few of you need to get over having a black president, as well.

P.S. Do look over the CS Constitution and tell me if you see any striking similarities to a certain movement today. With these folks, I don’t even think they’re being cynical. I really don’t think most of them have made the connection that they carry on a Confederate undercurrent; one which has been reborn under a yellow banner.

P.P.S. Uploading images to the photo sharing site and then inserting them into the post one by one, and then formatting them, and then reformatting them, can make the author grumpy. You’ve been forewarned.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

21 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Khirad, this truly is the BEST of your series, and I’ve enjoyed them all.
    (even if they do take forever to load with dial-up)

    You are such an exceptional photographer and have a gift with the camera.

    My husband is a Civil War buff and years ago we headed down south through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and portions of Georgia to visit battlegrounds and monuments of the south.

    Had to cut the trip short as it was an active El Nino year and tornadoes were a bit too close for comfort, especially in an RV, while in Georgia.

    Our trip was an interesting adventure and there were a few moments of unease, especially in bo-dunk Louisiana when 2 inebriated locals confronted us at a gas station and wanted to come inside for a tour of our RV and that was an old 1989 rundown used RV and small!

    We kept our eyes on the mirrors, afraid they were following us because of course we politely said “no, sorry”, but we both swore we could hear “Dueling Banjos” for miles.

    Strangely, we camped on an old plantation in Alabama, and the huge house still stood, along with some ramshackle slave quarters, but the owners converted part of their plantation into an RV campground and there was an odd feeling there, but was probably our imaginations with the Confederate Flags proudly flying.

    There are certain portions of the deep south that scare the beejeebers out of me, but I realize now that we should have skipped the south and headed to Virginia.

    Thank you so much for this diary and allowing us the opportunity to see what we missed.

    Excellent historical photo essay, Khirad!

    ps. I really like old cemeteries, too. Have you ever been to Dead Horse off I-17? There is a really old and sadly neglected cemetery there but oh, so fascinating and locals swear it’s haunted.

    And by PAX -- what is the meaning of that?
    Peace?

    another ps -- I’ve been trying for nearly 2 hours and I kid you not about that, and the entire thing has still not loaded completely.
    My patience is waning, so I had my husband check out what has downloaded and he really loves this diary that you’ve written and complimented your descriptions and loved the photos that have come into view.

    Dr’graz says EXCELLENT diary, Khirad! and assures me that we are not dead yet, so maybe we will make that trip someday soon!

    • Khirad says:

      Well first off thanks to you and others for the compliments on the photography. I never really excelled in photography classes in High School and college, nor have I worked out my digital camera completely, but I try to have some sort of composition.

      So sorry about the dial-up problems, I would have hoped me reducing their size might’ve helped with that.

      No, I’ve never been to that cemetery, but the other thing I like around Tucson is the shrines that are built, even for car crash sites, sometimes elaborate. Some of the best cemeteries are those which cannot be photographed, too (like Acoma Pueblo). The San Xavier del Bac cemetery is also old, simple and sad, but in that circumstance, I’d be more scared of the tribal police accusing me of taking pictures or trespassing on burial ground!

      The Hollywood Cemetery here is reputed to be very haunted, and golly, it’s hardly a surprise how stories could arise. I’m not a particularly superstitious person, and could brave it out in an old pioneer cemetery near my native hometown, but I get shivers imagining Hollywood cemetery at night.

      One day I too want to take that trip (not looking forward to the drive through Texas) through the Deep South and to my dad’s birth city of Savannah, Stone Mountain and up into South Carolina -- I would love to see Charleston and Fort Sumpter, after visiting the rural towns which I can trace some of my ancestors back to.

      Yes, Pax is Peace, and any symbolism to be taken from a shrouded woman holding open the book of peace I’ll leave up to others.

      Meridies iterum orietur was also a rendering of “the South shall rise again,” which I googled.

      Glad ya both liked it. I would definitely recommend Virginia, although, I never got into George Allen’s “Real Virginia.”

      When I go through the Deep South I definitely want to check out some of those plantations, as well as the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library (which I learned was demolished in Katrina). I wonder how one one spin the Confederate motto of Deo Vindice (God will Vindicate) in regards to that Act of God.

      Also, the “Free State of Jones” in Mississippi might be interesting (or boring -- might not really be anything to see). And sites of the Civil Rights era like Selma would be must sees.

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Khirad! “Not looking forward to the drive through Texas” which I hope is in reference to the 880+ miles you have to drive, and not the cool things you can/could see!

        IF you make this trip -- contact AdLib and get my email. I will meet you in W. Texas and we can look at cemetaries in Terlingua and Balmorhea/Toyahville. Haunting are the thousands of white stones at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. Also, the San Fernando cemetary. Come around 11/1 of any year and watch the HUGE Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

        Given your knowledge of Iran, and all my contacts w/ Afghans and Iranians -we should meet up if you are interested. Just let me know where/when.

        Maybe you could do a whole book of photos of overlooked cemetaries? Is there such a book now?

        Hope to see you, even if it IS Texas….

        AB

  2. kesmarn says:

    I’m convinced now that the South reigns supreme in cemeteries, Khirad! These are the best pics I’ve seen…especially the veiled figure with arms draped over the “Pax” tome/tomb. As you know, I love cemeteries, so this was a historian’s delight.

    And I join you in the occasional bout of misanthropy, as well.
    People…bah…! (Although, I also confess I will make a serious effort to be more tuned in to people with cameras who seem to be trying to line up a shot. And I will be sensitive enough to get the hell out of the way!)

    Please, keep ’em coming, Khirad. We’re not even close to the “full” mark on the gauge. Some of us weren’t able to do a “proper” vacation this summer, and this has been our vicarious one.

    Oh, and one last thing: I don’t think you ever need to be apologetic in the least about your interest in the Confederacy. It is a historian’s interest, and part of a search for balance and truth in the way things are represented. That’s all part of being a liberal thinker, and I can’t imagine anyone taking offense at that.

    • Khirad says:

      Thanks. It is support like yours that has kept me going.

      I was keen on being sensitive to those of color for whom it might cause emotional discomfort.

      For instance, I was just looking up the song Dixie. Ouch. I remember when I innocently chose it for a weekly recital in High School piano class. It had meant something completely different to me…

      So, I’m more than self-aware of possible pitfalls of Southern history, and as such, your reassurance means all the much more to me. :-)

  3. AlphaBitch says:

    Khirad -- thanks again. I enjoy your photo-essays of your trips, along with your perspectives.

    Someday, if you would like, I can take you to some amazing cemetaries in Texas -- one (in Terlingua) showed how many people died trying to mine mercury (if I remember correctly -- no coffee, so also be forewarned). Many were children. How they are set, how they are decorated, is also very cool, although the reason behind so many young deaths is tragic.

    I come from a family that owned slaves. Talk about shame…….but that was then, this is now, and I spend my life and time and money trying to help defend those who need an advocate. I also own a VERY cool 24K gold ring (family heirloom), dated and inscribed from 1865. I no longer wear it, in fear I will lose it; but it haunts me.

    Thanks, Khirad, for sharing. You are a great photographer!

    PS The LA cemetaries are also way cool………

    • Khirad says:

      That Terlingua one reminded me of some places off the beaten path in Arizona. Did look cool.

      I also don’t know if I’ll ever make it to P

      • AlphaBitch says:

        My family from long ago came from VA -- one great something grandfather was a Capt. in the Confederacy. They bought land and settled in Texas. In its own twist of irony, my family’s story had them deeding over an acre of land so that former slaves could build a church. Where the land is located is called Church Lane, and for years that sweet little church stood abandoned. I used to walk through it, looking at the hymnals left open, and I still have a couple of the funeral parlor fans that were left on the seats when the congregation faded. The ashes of both my mother and father are scattered there, as mine will be.

        My mom’s family had the tradition of the oldest male of each generation becoming a Lutheran minister, until my grandpa. My father hated all church matters, but would tell me about riding his bicycle and going to sit on the steps of that little church when he was a little boy. He simply loved the music, and worship on Saturdays brought him much joy, just listening to the music. I have kept the love of music going as well, for I am his daughter.

        Many conflicted stories, but it’s the layers that give us the flavor as Americans. (I like this concept better than the tacky flag tee shirts from Wal-Mart).

        Today I introduced an Iraqi refugee who is a CNA to my Afghan family. They seemed to hit it off well, despite the dreaded Shi’a Sunni “divide”. They are now Americans, and I expect them to understand that we are welcoming to those different than us, for it is that difference which brings the layers and the flavors.

        Again, I loved, loved, loved your photo journey. Thanks a million, Khirad!

        • kesmarn says:

          AB, if I may chime in from the conversational sidelines, your comment is really a wonderful addition to the history and the quality of this essay. I like your notion of complexity and layers adding depth to the American story.

          If only the xenophobes who would love to dominate the scene in this country at present could “get it,” that varied backgrounds and sensibilities are a good thing…!

          • AlphaBitch says:

            Thanks, kesmarn. I get just as frustrated and angry as anyone here, but I keep my shoulder to the wheel and just try and find some meaning. Today was challenging, tiring, frustrating, exhilarating, fun, restorative. It was, in short, life. I think if I get down by what I see with Beck or the bumper stickers and yard signs in my neighborhood, I LET the bastards win. THAT I won’t do. Although I have looked into emigrating to Canada -- I must admit it is appealing. But I dig in my heels and hold out hope that good and logic will prevail, that truth will triumph over lies, that love wins over hatred. And in my own little world, it does. For now, that is good enough.

            • bitohistory says:

              AB, you amaze, inspire and bring tears to my eyes with your kind and giving soul.

            • AlphaBitch says:

              Shaddup already, you big goof! You know how I feel about you, too! The Blovicator is a little jealous, although I have promised him we are strictly “Planetonic” friends. I feel the same way about so many here -- guys and dolls, as it were. Again, it is a nice respite when I am tired. but now the pillow is softly calling my name, and tomorrow is a full day, making a collage w/ my 6 year old precious one for her first homework assignment. The family has a hard time understanding what is needed, PLUS they have no magazines (an expense they cannot afford). So I’m going armed with catalogs and magazines, and together we will build something beautiful. Maybe you will also get that photo in email!

  4. Mightywoof says:

    I haven’t commented on your photo essays until now, Khirad, but I have found them all to be utterly captivating! …. and I really don’t care what you title them; I’m an igorrant Canajun and everything south of the border is ‘the States’ *kidding you -- honest 😆 *

    You are a kindred spirit -- I also hate crowds; I get almost claustrophobic if I can’t have some breathing space around me. And, yeah, folks who stand in the way while you’re trying to get the perfect photo drive me insane. Tha last time that happened to me was when I was trying to get a pic of Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies from the observation platform -- it was packed and every time I lifted my camera some other idiot walked in the way with their camera :roll: ….. darn, don’t they know I’M the most important person in this universe 😆

    This latest photo essay/journal I think has been your best! History drips from every photo and your personal take as you guide us around has been so enjoyable -- I can’t thank you enough for sharing your vacation with us -- what a pleasant change from the dreary and unsettling world of politics!!

    • PepeLepew says:

      Mightywoof, that doesn’t bother me, but what has become my pet peeve are people who bring their cellphones into the wilderness, hike up to some peak, then whip out their cell phones to call people, literally, saying, “guess where I am?”

      • Mightywoof says:

        Wow!! What’s the point of getting away from it all if you can’t get away from it all :roll: . I,proudly, no longer own a cell phone …………. I survived 55 years without one and the couple of years I owned one convinced me that the entire cellphone-owning planet is insane.

        That old saw should be amended: Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints and leave you’re bloody cell phone at home!!

        Oh -- I should mention -- some Canadian wilderness parks are now going wi-fi ……… yeah, I don’t understand either!

    • Khirad says:

      Thanks, Mightwoof. :-)

      BTW, are those lakes really that turquoise in person? I’ve wanted to go to Banff ever since I first saw photos of those colors when I was a young teen.

      • Mightywoof says:

        I forgot to say -- you should get to the Canadian Rockies Khirad. I hate mountains (close your ears Pepe) on account of I’m afraid of heights -- in fact I have a photo of one spot where we stopped off at a photo point and the juxtaposition of the mountain angles and the road angles as it wound down below made me so dizzy my sis had to help me back to the car!! That’s beside the point -- there are amazing places around Jasper(Maligne Lake for one), Banff is a bit too touristy for my taste and EXPENSIVE, and you’d better get to the Athabasca Glacier before it’s melted completely (we were there back in the mid-70’s and I swear the glacier was almost at the side of the road -- it’s really retreated a lot in the intervening 35-odd years).

      • Mightywoof says:

        Mr. LePew beat me to it 😆 …… yeah, it’s an incredible colour!!

      • PepeLepew says:

        Yes, they are really that turquoise. :)

        Glacial silt.

  5. boomer1949 says:

    Thank you Khirad — another informative post. I so enjoy your photos.

    Two things:

    You know, I just hate people. Can

    • Khirad says:

      But I think what bothers me most is the total lack of common sense, courtesy, and ability to focus on anyone other than themselves.

      Bingo. 😉

      I always get embarrassed when I see I’m in someone’s shot, or am aware to stay out of them when I don’t need to be standing somewhere. Other people just seem oblivious.

      But no, they are far from embarrassed, though they can act like children. Seriously, I’m really glad I don’t have contacts with some of my Southern relatives… though not all are like that.


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