quence is all the more striking for the implied contrast with therndumbed-down discourse of the contemporary standard,rnwhether in the multiplex or on cable. It is actually shocking tornsee the Civil War represented in historically sound language,rnideas, and motives, rather than in some rigidly ideological reduction.rnPrecious little in American culture since the 60’s hasrnprepared us for the incredible truths presented by Gettysburgrn—a vision that comes as a slap in the face and a wake-uprncall to the national memory. Thanks, director Ronald F.rnMaxwell—we needed that.rnMaxwell’s screenplay was developed from Michael Shaara’srnnovel The Killer Angels, and it is both appropriate and necessaryrnto say here that Shaara’s vision was developed from history.rnWhat shock is there for us in thinking that Longstreet mightrnhave been more right than Lee 130 years ago? The shock ofrnGettysburg is not the rehash of strategy or the experience of thernbattle—it is the reminder of a lost worid and a betrayed culture.rnIt is a measure of what we have lost, of what too many of usrnhave never known we had, of the price we pay for induced amnesia,rnand of the alienation and mendacity required to maintainrnthe present regime of inversion.rnNot all of us needed such a reminder, of course. Some arernlike Elvis Presley in one of his early songs: we forgot to rememberrnto forget. Civil War buffs, muzzle-loading enthusiasts,rnand historically minded people are some of those who, in variousrnways, remember and commemorate authentic America.rnBut by and large, a cultural hegemony preoccupied with radicallyrnrestructuring the nation’s laws and lobotomizing our treasuryrnof memory by promulgating a repotted history; a masscultrnobsessed with extracting money from consumers who are habituatedrnto pornographic and other fantasies accompanied byrnthe druggy shake, rattle, and roll of electronic “music”; and enforcersrnof politically correct substitutes for knowledge andrnthought who police the academic world—none of these havernprepared us for the experience of a film that in 1993 largelyrndeals with Confederate anxieties and presents without irony extollmentsrnof the virtues of the families of Virginia.rnThe seeming novelty of such assertions, and the sight of sornmany freshly laundered Confederate battle flags (no bulletrnholes or bloodstains on those banners), seems incongruous inrna larger context so distorted that only just this past summer, thernU.S. Senate actually voted to refuse a patent to the UnitedrnDaughters of the Confederacy, endorsing the view of SenatorrnCarol Moseley-Braun of Illinois that the sight of that same flagrnwas “painful.” The Senate joined her in “putting a stakernthrough the heart of this Dracula”—the something that keptrnrising from the grave that apparently is American history itself.rnMs. Moseley-Braun’s ineptly rehearsed hissy-fit was so stultifyingrnin its moronism that no one thought to ask whether thernStars and Stripes might also evoke painful memories, since itrndenoted (among other painful things) a slaveholding nation forrnmany more years than the Confederate flag represented anything.rnNeither was anyone heard to inquire whether a painfulrnmemory for some justified a rule of censorship for others; for ifrnit did, then perhaps even the cross—whether painfully representingrnfor some the crucifixion of the perfect man or painfullyrnconstituting for others an object of resentment—might alsornbe rejected by our sensitive senators. (One implication of thernmovie Gettysburg is to remind us that men, even senators inrnsome cases, used to be made of sterner stuff.)rnWell, no sooner was the tantrum concluded than SenatorsrnBoxer and Feinstein of California, Metzenbaum of Ohio, andrnHeflin of Alabama were with improbable spontaneity huggingrnthe senator from Illinois in front of the television cameras, congratulatingrnher for her historic contribution, which was—theyrngot quite worked up on this point—one only a woman couldrnhave made. Strictly speaking, of course, that was a remarkablernthing to say about a deliberate insult to a ladies’ service organizationrn—one that had been respected by the Senate for nearlyrna century.rnPerhaps some senator should not only view Gettysburg butrnalso study the extent of national, not sectional, involvement inrncommemorating the virtues of certain Confederates, if not thern”Rebellion” itself. Such a leader might also examine how JeffersonrnDavis (who declared, “Sovereigns never rebel”) andrnRobert E. Lee got their citizenship back during the Carter administrationrn—the late Robert Penn Warren wrote a good studyrnof Davis as an American. That solon should note the names ofrnthe U.S.S. Robert E. Lee, the U.S.S. Stonewall ]ackson, FortrnBragg, Fort Hood, Fort A.P. Hill, etc., as well as certain U.S.rnstamps and coins like the Old Stone Mountain half-dollar,rnand so on. Such a lawgiver might then understand that suchrnacknowledgments were more than political payoffs—they werernrecognitions of notable American soldiers. West Point graduatesrnall, some veterans of the Mexican War (of painful memory,rnthe NAFTA and the immigration policy of its day), whornsomehow served in the grim period before the Army’s appallingrnsexism and homophobia were chastened. And the flagrnthat these men fought for was, during the War Between thernStates, often that transfixing image which I hesitate to mentionrnlest the citation of reality cause offense to anyone, especially tornthe junior senator from the great state of Illinois.rnSome may wonder why it is so important to the Senate nowrnto undo the reunification sealed by the Senate 90-oddrnyears ago. President McKinley pointedly paid homage to Confederaternheroism, as a capstone to the victory in the Spanish-rnAmerican War, and offered federal help in caring for Confederaterngraves on Northern soil. Two Confederate generals,rnFitzhugh Lee and Joseph Wheeler, served in blue in thatrnwar—a point that was nationally noted. When Congressrnvoted to return captured Confederate flags in 1905, it therebyrnacknowledged Southern honor. Other indicators of a gentlemanlyrnreconciliation in that day included the celebration ofrnLee conducted by the younger Charles Francis Adams, brotherrnof Henry and Brooks Adams, son of Lincoln’s minister tornEngland, grandson of John Quincy Adams, and great-grandsonrnof John and Abigail Adams. In a related gesture, Charles E.rnStowe, son of “the little lady who started the big war,” repudiatedrnabolitionism in a speech in 1911.rnConfederate Memorial Day, complete with painful flags, wasrnobserved at Adington National Cemetery beginning in 1903—rnappropriately so when you consider in whose front yard thatrnburial ground is located, and how it was acquired. In 1913, overrn50,000 veterans—mostly Union, of course—gathered at Gettysburgrnfor their 50th anniversary and a rather authentic if enfeebledrnreenactment of Pickett’s Charge. They also heard arnspeech by a Southern-born President—one who, like many anotherrncitizen, was later to admire the film Birth of a Nation.rnThe powerful medium of the movies was used to promoternthe myth of American unity. Owen Wister in The Virginianrn(1902) instituted in the popular mind an acknowledgment ofrnSouthern virtue that had many echoes in popular culture,rnparticularly in Hollywood films. John Ford had the most pow-rnMAY 1994/25rnrnrn