There’s a Confederate flag at my 2nd great grandfather‘s (1829-1880) Ancestry.com page. He enlisted in the 64th North Carolina infantry. He told his oldest son (1847-1934), my great grandfather, to help his mother and younger siblings with their mountain farm. My grandmother (1897-1995) said her pa hated “Linkern,” aka Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) because his pa left the family to fight in “Lincoln’s war.”
My grandmother didn’t hate Lincoln, or anyone. She was 42 when the Methodist Episcopal Church, the M.E. Church, South and the Methodist Protestant Church reunited in 1939. She had enough maternal instinct for her seven children and the whole town. In her sixties, as the local high school’s chief cook, she was widely considered another mother by the students. For me, she’s a healing icon of unity.
Division marks my family tree, my nation and my faith community. My favorite war icon is Appomattox, where grace met dignity. But the war isn’t over for everyone, which partly accounts for Donald Trump’s popularity. Eugene Robinson’s 6/11/2020 Washington Post column may be premature: “Trump might go down in history as the last president of the Confederacy.” There may yet be others.