You should have learned this in third grade

Notice: This is not a political post, but it is one about history.

As people filed into the funeral home for my father’s service, I was reminded again how good are the people I grew up with and was mentored by in my hometown. It does take a village, and I grew up in a good one. It provided a needed reminder for me in light of how rural people are often classified and regarded in today’s divided society. But there is a very small minority of you in that county whom I must address. Those who attended Dad’s funeral will not tell you this, but I am certain many of them are embarrassed by those of you who think it is acceptable to fly the godforsaken Confederate flag in your yard. Let me say what I believe they are thinking: You are imbeciles.

Here is a brief geography lesson that perhaps you napped through in third grade: You live in northern Missouri. In fact, you live so close to Iowa you can drive to the first town across the state line, buy a six-pack, and be back in front of your wide screen watching the Royals play the Rangers within 30 minutes. I’m not suggesting you would actually do this because even you know Iowa beer is overpriced. But that’s not the point.

And now here is a history lesson, which you also should have learned in grade school: If your people go back generations in northern Missouri, you have relatives who fought for the Union in the Civil War. You know, the Federals, the North, the Blues. The Winning Side. Therefore, don’t try that “Heritage” nonsense with anyone. We ain’t buying it.

Merrill’s Horse Reunion, Bethany, Missouri. Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

If you want something to be proud of, be proud of this: Many dirt farmers and store clerks, possibly including at least one of your ancestors, joined the 2nd Missouri Volunteers, aka Merrill’s Horse, aka the freaking cavalry during the Civil War. The honest-to-God, kick-ass cavalry. And I don’t use “kick-ass” frivolously. These guys were not guarding railroads. They were shooting those guys whose flag you’re flying. Merrill’s Horse was directly responsible for helping drive the rebels out of Missouri. In fact, they kicked their butts all the way back to the Deep South, where Merrill’s Horse continued to kick butt and take names. They were in significant battles along the way, which you can read more about here on Wikipedia, which is never wrong.

When the war was over, the men in Merrill’s Horse came back home and took up their plows and store aprons again. “Hero” gets used a lot these days when it shouldn’t be, and I hesitate to call these men heroes because I don’t know much about any of them. But I do believe they were pretty close to heroic. And if one of their neighbors had decided to fly the stars and bars after the war, well…I pity the fool.

If you want to fly a flag because of pride in your heritage, there is a pretty good one that flies over our nation’s capitol. But that other one? Lighter fluid sells pretty cheaply in Iowa.


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