Ty Seidule.

Visiting Professor of History Ty Seidule discussed how his feelings about the Civil War have changed in “Ty Seidule on Challenging the Myth of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” a recent episode of “Story in the Public Square.”

Seidule, who grew up in the South, said he once believed the Myth of the Lost Cause and saw Robert E. Lee as a hero. He discussed how he learned, through his study of history and his own reflection about the Civil War, that what he believed was wrong, and that the war was about the South’s resistance to the abolishment of slavery and the Confederates were not heroes.

He said that he is not trying to change history, but rather how it is commemorated. “Commemoration is about our values. It’s about who we honor, and if that no longer fits then we should change it,” he said.

“Story in the Public Square” is a production of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, in partnership with The Providence Journal (R.I.). It is presented by Rhode Island PBS via NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. The weekly public affairs show airs nationally on PBS stations and features guests who study or tell stories that shape public understanding of topics that are relevant today.

Seidule was also a member of a panel that discussed this topic in a two-part episode of the podcast “Humankind: Voices of Hope and Humanity.” He was joined by Doug Jones, a former U.S. senator from Alabama, and Hilary Green, a professor of Africana studies at Davidson College.

Host David Freudberg asked, “Is the bitter legacy of racial division in the Civil War still affecting American life today?” Seidule described growing up in the segregated Alexandria, Va., of the 1960s where everything around him said that the underdog Confederates were heroes. He noted how the Army changed him, saying that he went from wanting to be a Southern gentleman to wanting to be the best soldier he could be when, upon joining the Army, he took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic …” He said the oath became even more important to him when he learned that it had been written in 1862 and realized it was an anti-Confederate oath meant to protect America from traitors.

In October, Seidule was a guest on “Gulf Coast Life,” which airs on WGCU, PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida. His discussion was in connection to a lecture he had recently presented at Florida Gulf Coast University.

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