Looking Back

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Looking Back

by Hodding Carter III
Southern Cultures, Vol. 2, No. 3/4: 1996

"Can a prominent Mississippi liberal love the Battle Flag? The answer may surprise you."

When I went to work for Jimmy Carter, I left the South I had known. It’s now been nineteen years since I came to perch here on the outer rim of northern Virginia, and no one is more aware than I of the multiple disconnections that have ensued. Time, distance, and death have all combined to fray ties and weaken memory . . . but not to sever abiding attachment. Southernness lies closer to the bone than I once recognized or acknowledged. Growing older, I find myself more openly receptive to the South’s insistent pull and grateful for its lessons. Much like the South itself, I’ve abandoned old ways and taken on new, but there are veins of thought and instinct that, though mined, are far from depleted. Each trip south restores them. Each fresh reunion with friends from that southern past reminds me of how much I depend upon them for balance and ballast.