We have more family history records on my Mom’s side than my Dad’s. The internet has helped minimize the difference. Dad was born in southeast Ohio, the last of four children of an older couple from West Virginia. Most of his extended family (and his dad was one of the younger children in a larger family) lived in the Mountain State.
So when the internet presented records of a Confederate Army soldier in our line, I was startled and a bit offended momentarily. Until I re-realized that “West Virginia” didn’t exist before the Civil War. Prior to the split, it was all Virginia, all the way to East Liverpool, Ohio. That’s farther north than Marion! My heritage was Virginian, and that passive actor in so much of history, the “accident of geography,” placed some of my people in the new state and left others in the “Old Dominion.” Who knows now what that meant to the family?
I’m grateful for that relatively quick turnaround of my unthinking response. That lesson helped me when I had a similar kneejerk response the first time I heard the phrase “Defund Police.” From my daughter. My ignorance of that movement (I regularly realize there’s increasingly more I don’t know) didn’t prevent a relatively rapid (like, only a day) openness to the history and breadth of the phrase. So, I’m grateful today that I can still learn, and for learning. Although learning can be hard. And so can un-learning. I hope time allows much more of each.