Sunday, May 13, 2007

Alexandria Afire!

Alexandria Afire 2007! My city is 200 this year, and as part of the celebrations, this past weekend we re-enacted one of our most historic events.

On Friday May 13, 1864, Alexandria, Louisiana was burned to the ground by retreating Union troops. They'd just been defeated at the battles of Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, and in retaliation burned the town to the ground. By the time the fire went out that evening, there was one building left standing. That building was the Catholic church.

Out of the ashes, a new city arose. A city that is now one of the fastest growing cities of our size in the entire South. We are home to the national model for how to reclaim a closed military installation, have just finished a succesful downtown revitalization program, and are poised for massive expansion within the next 20 years. Without Alexandria and the Louisiana Manouvers of 1940-1942, we would not have won WW2. Patton perfected his tank tactics here and a small scale invasion of Berlin was practiced.

To appreciate where you're going, you must first know where you came from. That was the reason for this weekend's event. One must understand the past and its mistakes so that you're not doomed to repeat it. Contrary to popular opinion here in town we weren't celebrating mass destruction, and in the words of one angry townsperson, "wanton acts of violence". We were celebrating rebirth on a grand scale. Many other torched cities and towns of the South never recovered. We didn't just recover, we thrived!

I present The Grand Ball in pictures. Hopefully, these pictures will help show why I am a proud Southerner, proud of my Confederate heritage and a girl who isn't afraid to stand in respect when Dixie is played or when the Battle Flag is raised.

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