Among the longleaf pines a couple of miles outside of Rhine, Georgia sits a cluster of graves alone in a field in which a local farmer plants a crop of peanuts each year.
There is no ornate wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetery much less an entrance sign chiseled from Georgia granite pointing out his story.
One of those graves belongs to my paternal great-great-grandfather, Capt. John Cravey. The ugly truth is he took up arms and fought in Hood’s Army for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
His headstone doesn’t have a Confederate marker atop it.
I write this not as a point of pride, but to shine a light on how his life did not shape nor inform mine. In fact, his life and the stories that he could have told were never told.
Perhaps it’s because like many men, particularly men who fight in hand-to-hand combat, often never speak of what transpired on the battlefield. Of perhaps, it was such a horrible thing he was fighting to defend was not acceptable to his family.
I can say, however, that he was never spoken of in terms of greatness or grandiosity in my family and among the vast amount of uncles and cousins I grew up with.
His legacy was not passed from generation to generation as some type of point of pride. If anything, it’s something me and my siblings, for the most, part do not ever share with others.
But when I saw photos of the Confederate Battle Flag unfurled Jan. 6 in our Nation’s Capitol, my stomach tied up in knots. I was in shock to a point of sadness and a tear welled up in my eye.
Was this their goal? Did this angry mob of insurrectionists want to turn the clock of democracy back more than 150 years to a time when people were allowed to own other people? Were the angry mobsters there to try and kill democracy as a whole so we can move to an authoritarian form of government like some that exist today in eastern Europe? What a stain! What a disgrace!
Patriots do not wear shirts emblazoned with anti-Semitic slurs and take down U.S. flags and replace them with the flags of their supreme leader, Donald Trump.
I’m not convinced by the Trump supporters who are trying to shape a narrative of patriotism and virtue among the angry mob that ransacked the halls of Congress shouting, “Where’s Mike Pence!” “Where’s Nancy Pelosi!”
One thing that is sure, is they were not there to sit down and have a diplomatic conservation. They were seeking revenge for an election they falsely believed had been stolen in whatever form they could muster.
Five people, including one member of the U.S. Capitol Police, died as a result of the angry mob of rioters. I’m grateful for the Capitol Police who did their jobs to fend off the mob and protected Congress while they holed up in safe, undisclosed locations.
The lesson I did learn growing up from my family was a story of an America in which we have the power to make a difference regardless of the color of our skin or from what economic station we hail from in life.
I yearn for the days in which Americans could discuss governing not through the lens of a political party, but as Americans who want the same things, but just differ on how those things can be achieved.