History is a huge part of living in Vicksburg

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2024

You don’t have to live in Vicksburg to see that our town is steeped in history, specifically military history, and even more specifically, Civil War history. It’s everywhere you look here.

Whether it is one of the many monuments erected after battles that turned out to be key moments in the war between the states, museums and antebellum homes, or the physical scars still present on the landscape, even people passing through can
see the Civil War’s impact is still very much evident in today’s Vicksburg. But, that’s a good thing.

History is, at the very least, an incredibly interesting and entertaining subject. Movies are made each and every year about historical events, because we love to look back at a time before our own; we love to wonder what that was like. At the most, his-
tory is a tool we use to try and be better; to not repeat past mistakes.

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That’s what makes the vandalism at the Vicksburg Civil War museum this week so disheartening. As museum owner Charles Pendleton put it: It is “spirit-crushing” and “a step back.” What Pendleton was referring to was graffiti some-
one tagged his building with overnight this week. It read “liars” and one can only assume it was in reference to something inside the museum the vandal disagreed with.

Pendleton said the incident was discouraging because it doesn’t represent the spirit of a museum. He seemed more upset about the vandal misunderstanding his museum’s purpose than he did over any physical damage.

And he has a point. We live in a very divisive world. One where things that once didn’t seem polarizing are now topics of heated debate. Chief among them has always been race, and the aspect of slavery and its connection with the Civil War will never be an easy subject to broach. But it’s one we can learn from and museums like Pendleton’s — and cities like Vicksburg — help us to do that.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another kind of military history was memorialized Monday when the Army-Navy Club of Vicksburg held its first flag-raising ceremony of 2024. The group raises a new American flag over the U.S. Highway 80 Bridge between Mississippi and Louisiana every three months. Each new flag is sponsored and honors local patriots. Monday’s ceremony was in memory of two World War II veterans, and members of those men’s families were on hand for the service.

Norman Francingues serves as the chairman of the Army-Navy Club’s U.S. Highway 80 Bridge Flag Program, and it’s clear the community-service project is near and dear to his heart, as well to those of the men who make up the club and were in attendance Monday.

I guess what I’m getting at with all of this is that history is important. Is it scandalous, heartbreaking, and hard to revisit at times? Absolutely. But so are most of the television shows we watch for fun. History isn’t always fun. But, it’s always important and we have reminders of it in spades here in Vicksburg. We should be thankful for that.

Blake Bell is the general manager and executive editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at blake.bell@vicksburgpost.com.