The Sons of Confederate Veterans march every year in W. Monroe-Monroe’s annual Mardi Gras Parade. This year, the weather was great–quite cool, but clear–and the crowd was huge. I haven’t heard an estimated number of the crowd yet. We fired a boatload of blank bullets as we marched the six mile route, drawing cheers from the crowd every time we fired a volley. Along with the 39 men toting muskets, there were three trailers playing music, two bearing a cannon each (though we no longer are able to fire the cannon, as they set off too many car alarms) and we had a great host of flag and banner bearers both men and women in Antebellum dresses. In their coverage of the event, I was told the local TV news station even included a shot of me marching. Once again, I am a TV star.
This part of Louisiana is a Confederate friendly area, and I would say that over 90% of the crowd were enthusiastic and supportive of us, the men wearing the gray and bearing the Battle Flag; 7% of the crowd were ambivalent; and only a very few, perhaps 3%, were hostile. Most of those were quite intoxicated, and judging by their vocabulary, not the type who read books or know history and who are not likely to show up on Jeopardy or any game show that requires a demonstration of knowledge.
After we marchers returned to our vehicles, a few of us went to Bennigans for burgers and pints of Guinness. I thought about why we do this marching, and when I see the excitement of the crowds, I know: Southerners love their heritage, and they like being reminded of it. When they look at us marching, in our period costumes, firing our muskets in a salute to them and to our history, they are once again connected to a rich past, to their ancestors and they feel pride in being a Southerner.
By the way, Yankee Civil War reenactors very seldom march in parades in the South. There must be a reason . . .