THE CONFEDERATE FLAGS by Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

Tut-tut! give back the flags -- how can you care, You veterans and heroes? Why should you at a kind intention swear Like twenty Neros? Suppose the act was not so overwise -- Suppose it was illegal; Is't well on such a question to arise And punch the Eagle? Nay, let's economize his breath to scold And terrify the alien Who tackles him, as Hercules of old The bird Stymphalian. Among the rebels when we made a breach Was it to get the banners? That was but incidental -- 'twas to teach Them better manners. They know the lessons well enough to-day; Now, let us try to show them That we're not only stronger far than they, (How we did mow them!) But more magnanimous. My lads, 'tis plain 'Twas an uncommon riot; The warlike tribes of Europe fight for gain; We fought for quiet. If we were victors, then we all must live With the same flag above us; 'Twas all in vain unless we now forgive And make them love us. Let kings keep trophies to display above Their doors like any savage; The freeman's trophy is the foeman's love, Despite war's ravage. "Make treason odious?" My friends, you'll find You can't, in right and reason, While "Washington" and "treason" are combined -- "Hugo" and "treason." All human governments must take the chance And hazard of sedition. O wretch! to pledge your manhood in advance To blind submission. It may be wrong, it may be right, to rise In warlike insurrection: The loyalty that fools so dearly prize May mean subjection. Be loyal to your country, yes -- but how If tyrants hold dominion? The South believed they did; can't you allow For that opinion? He who will never rise though rulers plot, His liberties despising -- He is he manlier than the sans-culottes Who's always rising? Give back the foolish flags whose bearers fell, Too valiant to forsake them. Is it presumptuous, this counsel? Well, I helped to take them.

Postwar Remembrances