Category Archives: Reflections

Folding up the Stars and Bars

By Bill Kovarik 

They say that American Southerners are a lot like Japanese people – they drink a lot of tea, they eat a lot of rice, and they worship their ancestors.

Maybe that’s why the Confederate marchers in Roanoke’s Christmas 2014 parade remind me of  Hiroo Onoda, who died this year in Tokyo.   Onoda was the Japanese Army officer who refused to surrender in 1945, at the end of World War II, and fought on in the remote jungles of the Philippines until 1974.

Links to Dan Smith's blog.

Confederate marchers. Roanoke. Dec. 12, 2014. Photo by Dan Smith.

The way they finally got Hiroo Onoda to surrender was to send his former commanding officer to the Philippines with a formal order telling him to cease all military activities.

Would that work, here in the former Confederate States of America?

Well, OK, here goes:

As a descendant of a Confederate colonel who perished in the Civil War, also known as the Recent Unpleasantness and the War of Northern Aggression,  I hereby order all descendants of Confederate veterans to cease all military and civic hostilities by April 12, 2015.

There. That should do it.

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MOOC content is a faculty concern

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Endangered species: Virginia college faculty.

By Bill Kovarik

The advent of what the Roanoke Times calls “Higher Education for the Masses” through  Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)  might be a hopeful sign for  colleges, as noted in this June 6th, 2003 editorial.

But there is a problem.

According to the Times, paraphrasing Larry Sabato, “universities must come up with a business model that ensures they don’t give away their intellectual [property] …”

(Ahem).   Whose  intellectual property?

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Classroom Wars

Dwight Simon, a middle-school history teacher, reflects on the seductive stories of mankind’s battles.

As a teacher of history, as a teacher of wars, imagine the knotting of  stomach and tightening of chest that occurred when I encountered, seven years late, Drew Gilpin Faust’s article ‘“We should grow too fond of it’: why we love the Civil War.” Faust writes:

War is, by its very definition, a story. War imposes an orderly narrative on what without its definition of purpose and structure would be simply violence. We as writers create that story; we remember that story; we provide the narrative that by its very existence defines war’s purpose and meaning. We love war because of these stories. But we should ask ourselves how in the construction of war’s stories we may be helping to construct war itself.  (Faust, Drew Gilpin, “We Should Grow Too Fond of It”: Why We Love the Civil WarCivil War History – Volume 50, Number 4, December 2004, pp. 368-383).