Selma battle reminds us of our past

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

Usually it’s my alarm or the neighborhood dogs that wake me up Saturday mornings. However, this past Saturday, it was the loud thunder of a cannon that made me jump out of bed.

The cannon fire and masses of reenactors dressed in antebellum gowns and war-time attire all signaled one thing — the Battle of Selma had begun. Not being from Selma, I went into the weekend pretty clueless and unaware as to what to expect. All I knew was that Riverside Park would turn into a scene from a Civil War battle, and there would be lots of delicious kettle corn and root beer.

When I first step foot on to the battle field Friday night, I have to admit, I was in awe. Between the authentic costumes of the reenactors and the men on horses who would trot by, I really felt like I was back in “the days of old.” Part of me was tempted to ditch my notepad and pen, put on a hoop skirt, and insist that everyone call me Scarlett O’Hara for the rest of the weekend. Luckily, I discovered that interviewing spectators and reenactors was just as much fun — if not more.

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Walking through the battlefield, I talked with people who traveled from all parts of the state to witness the grand reenactment. One lady I spoke with said she brings her family to the Battle of Selma every year just to see history come alive and be reminded of her Southern roots.

Another person I talked with, David Friddle, said he comes to the battle each year to participate as a reenactor — but not as a traditional Union of Confederate soldier. He comes every year to play trumpet in the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment Band. Friddle explained to me the history of the infantry band and how they served the purpose of bringing cheer to soldiers before and after battles.

Listening to Friddle, and several others speak about how passionate they were about the Battle of Selma, made me realize how much history still affects Selma and the Black Belt today. We are a town with deep roots in Southern culture, and I hope those roots always stay strong.

Although our history may be bloody, I think it’s important that we reflect on our past as a way to improve our future. I applaud everyone who made the battle reenactment possible. Between the sweet and savory scent of Ma & Pa Kettle Korn and the authentic soaps and Confederate hats for sale, I truly felt like I had stepped back in time to the days leading up to the gory Battle of Selma. And I have to admit, when I saw the wooden house on the battlefield set ablaze by Union troops, a part of me was sad — not because the South had lost the war, but because Selma — my home town — had lost. I can’t wait to see history come alive again next year.