I don't remember a lot of rampant overt nationalism when I was growing up, but I guess it was there in a lot of subtle ways. Certainly at a tender age I'd been told many times by TV and books that the US was, you know, heap big #1 hot stuff.
So when I first learned about the Civil War, I didn't want to believe it. We lost a war? No way! What happened to heap big #1 hot stuff?!
Back then there was definitely a North-South us vs. them attitude that still lingered on in the minds of some of my teachers. (My husband, who grew up on military bases, was spared this instruction.) The South (that was us) had been wrong. The South (we) had been beaten.
Mostly, you outgrow it. Us/them becomes we, and the only regional distinctions nowdays usually concern accents or mannerisms, and even those differences are fading.
But the first time I saw the way soldiers were buried at Shiloh...
The Union: individual markers in a cemetery.
The Confederates: mass burial trenches. (This one contains about 700 soldiers piled 7 deep.)
I have to admit to finding in myself a pocket of that old us vs. them. Despite the fact that I know the south was wrong, and I would never defend that cause.
The Union soldiers were mostly dug up from all over the battlefield to be re-enterred in this cemetery after the war (4 years after the battle). That had to have been a tough task.
I had decided not to publish this post. It's a little uncomfortable to talk about, and I don't feel like I've expressed myself very well. But then I saw this bumper sticker downtown.
I have a hard time understanding what leads people to want to express sentiments like this.