Air Dates: December 19-25, 2022
History and memory are two different things, one is built on facts and documents and the other is built on tradition, myth and politics. Ty Seidule dissects the history of the American Civil War and the legacy of the myths it spawned about the cause of the war.
Seidule retired from the U.S. Army as a brigadier general after 36 years of service. Seidule was then appointed Vice Chair of the National Commission on Base Renaming by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in 2021. He has served as Professor Emeritus of History at West Point for two decades, is a visiting professor at Hamilton College and a New American fellow. Seidule is passionate about stopping the spread of misinformation about American history, especially the Civil War. His Southern upbringing contributed to his great reverence for Robert E. Lee and a misguided understanding of the Civil War. Through years of reflection and study of history, his opinion on the issue has changed significantly and he now uses his platform to deconstruct the narrative that Lee was a hero and challenges the idea that Confederate soldiers were underdogs fighting for a noble cause. Seidule asserts that the Civil War was unequivocally about the South’s resistance to the abolishment of slavery and ignoring this history continues to cause harm. He has published numerous articles, books and videos on the topic, including his latest book, “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause,” which was published this year.
On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Seidule reflects on his own relationship with Southern history, the Myth of the Lost Cause and the importance of promoting the truth about history. “I’m not changing history,” he explains, “We’re changing commemoration. Commemoration is about our values. It’s about who we honor, and if that no longer fits then we should change it.”
“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. ET, and Sundays at 2:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.