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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: Heritage Defense - A New View

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heritage Defense - A New View

For many years heritage defense was understood to be a reactionary activity where Southern patriots, through the Sons of Confederate Veterans engaged lawyers to file law suits to battle for issues and beliefs under attack by our political and philosophical enemies, or by those without an understanding of Southern heritage, symbols and history. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars have been spent to battle in an arena unfriendly to the Cause of the South.

Through the focus of our efforts into the Court room, the membership has been removed from most of the other avenues of political discourse used in this nation. By allowing our concerns to be corralled in the Court House, we have been silenced at the table of public opinion, and we have been distracted from other activities which would establish our flag in communities across the South. Each time we move the debate into the Courtroom we move to an environment unfriendly to our Cause, we expend precious resources in an arena where we have seen little success.

I would like to offer the idea of an expanded view of heritage defense. It is not a view which centers on our reaction to attacks, but includes a positive view of all we do to educate our friends and neighbors about who we (the South) are. Heritage defense is about vindicating the Cause. We do that with every breath, every beat of our hearts.

In my view, the greatest vindication of the Cause are the members of this Texas Division. The great blessing of being a state officer is travelling around the state and meeting all the truly magnificent men who are members of this organization. The hearts are pure, the motives selfless, the pure joy of sharing southern greatness literally blazes in the eyes and smiles of so many of our men. And Christ is with us, there every step of the way. Life is worth living when you embrace all that is Southern.

Reenactments, living history, visiting classrooms all of these activities are good, wholesome, effective ways to reach out to the general public to tell our story. And these activities are being supplemented with programs like Flags Across Texas, and the great memorial Commander Granvel Block is constructing down on Interstate Ten will be a real testament to our heritage, and to the present day Sons of Confederate Veterans. I believe Granvel’s work is the most important project we are currently involved in. Granvel’s efforts will exist for decades, if not centuries, and be a daily reminder to tens of thousands of travellers of the nation that was the Confederate States of America.

In the past, these type activities have been seen more as heritage promotion than heritage defense. But in my view, activities like these sustain our presence in the public mind, spread the word and introduce the idea of the Southern Cause.

Our involvements in major and minor parades around the state are also important heritage activities. The men who keep us in the bigger parades in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area, Houston and San Antonio are keeping us in the eyes of the public. Tens of thousands of people see us in these parades are reminded of Southern pride and our regional identity. In the smaller towns, our involvement in parades keeps our neighbors and friends aware of our continued commitment to the Cause.

I would like to suggest there are other heritage defense operations which need to be engaged in. These operations are more aggressive, more dependent on an advanced knowledge of our ante bellum and political history, and more reliant on funds.

As I have visited camps around Texas I have discovered two things. First, that our camps are filled with dedicated, talented men. Many of the camps have talented communicators, both speakers and writers. And second, that in the hugeness of the Texas, local towns and communities each have their own history, heroes, and stories. These unique heritage aspects need to be developed and written into stories. To defend our heritage people must know what our heritage is. Not just the big issue, big question stories, but the local heritage.

I propose camps should work to research their local areas. Try to find the militia and company rosters. If you have them, try to get local newspapers to publish those rosters. Maybe write a brief story of the unit’s history, but the key is getting the roster published. I believe once the roster is published locals will look to see if their family was involved. This could lead recruiting opportunities. Recently a few senior officers in the Texas Division attempted to estimate how many Confederate descendants there are. I thought there might 10 to 30 million. But it seems, I may be wrong, by a lot. One conservative estimate was 80 million! As many as 80 million Americans living today are of Confederate blood. I doubt many Americans realize that more than 25% of today’s population is of Southern blood.

But back to heritage defense. Write down the histories of your local area. If enough of the 80 camps did that, we might be able to produce a unique Texas history, and publish it as Division book! We are presently working on publishing The Road to Secession which will hopefully generate revenues for the division.

And on a totally separate path, we need to become active in the world of governance in the state of Texas. Our Constitution prohibits us from becoming involved in the election of officers of the state and local governments. That is not an unusual restraint on a not-for-profit organization. However, our Constitution does not prohibit us from contacting local and state officials to lobby for decisions in our favor. In fact, we already do that to some extent. We communicate with the Land Office and Historical Commission. We even have a Legislative Day in Austin where we are encouraged to spend money to travel to Austin to walk the halls.

What we have not done is work as individuals, camps, brigades and as a division to organize politically to influence the decisions of the government. This is an absolutely legal and proper activity. The means of doing this can be as simple as writing letters to your elected state senator and representative, to contacting state departments and County Court Houses about issues, to organizing rallies and working to our needs and wants to the general public.

Gentlemen, I do not promise that if we do conduct the type of activities I outlined above the state of Texas would immediately change it deals with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. But I can promise that it is our complete impotence with respect to how America government works that has led to the present situation where the Sons of Confederate Veterans is treated no better than a nuisance. Recently I wrote an article which discussed the potential size of the number of Confederate descendants nationally. That figure was conservatively estimated at somewhere between 50 and 80 million citizens. Using the same formula, with respect to Texas, (and assuming 30,000 veterans) the number of possible descendants would be well over ten million! That’s a lot of folks.

A strong civic minded effort could also reap recruiting results as people learned more about our organization through our efforts to encourage their own citizen participation in government.

Lastly, each meeting we stand and recommit ourselves to vindicate the Cause of our ancestors. Civic participation is at the very core of the Cause.

I look forward to hearing the views of the general membership, camp and brigade leadership concerning this view of heritage defense. One thing is certain, our past strategies have failed. Reliance on the Court has proven to be an expensive folly.

I wish for each compatriot a great summer, filled with the memories of family. I am, I remain available to camps or brigades to make presentations at camps, or to participate in meetings. I enjoy so much being with you all.

Your Obedient Servant,

Mark Vogl, Lt. Commander
Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans


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