With due respect, I can imagine Gov. Phil Bryant in conversation with a long-dead Confederate soldier -- a mostly quiet, go-along-to-get-along young man who had been a sharecropper, not well-schooled but of good character, honest and hardworking.
He had farmed the rich soil of the Mississippi Delta; no stranger to solitude, he talked to his mule more often than to his neighbors. He told the mule about the town girl who had captured his heart. When the storm clouds gathered, he rented out his mule and bought a long gun and a new pair of boots. He was ready and eager to defend the rights of the only state he'd ever known.
He told the governor that he'd well and truly "seen the elephant." He talked of endless marches, of companions killed and maimed, of the cool autumn afternoon when he lost his life to the terrible fire of a blue coat cannon. He didn't speak of the unending silence of his unmarked grave, but he did wonder aloud why no one told him that the war was fought in order to defend an indefensible, morally corrupt agricultural system based on the notion that human beings could be bought, traded and sold like provisions at the general store.
The governor might ask if he'd volunteer again knowing now what he didn't know then. The soldier, fading away, saying only that he often thinks of the wife he never had and the children never born. The governor says, "Wait, what are your feelings about the Confederate flag?"
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Ronald Reagan famously urged Mikhail Gorbachev to take down the wall that divided the German people, and it came to pass. I join others in the hope that Gov. Bryant will find the will and political courage to take down a flag that divides the people of our extraordinary state.