PRESIDENT GRANT: (Dazed) That’s a real possibility General Lee (gesturing towards open seat next to him), have a sit.
GENERAL LEE: Barkeep, a beer please. And one for my (looks at Grant, who’s head is now lying on the bar), never mind.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: (Interrupting) General Lee, Sir! (Saluting) Lt. Rufus Hemphill Duval reporting for duty.
GENERAL LEE: (Half-hearted return salute, smiling) At ease there soldier, I’m retired now … and so are you.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: Sir, the South will never surrender. Dixie Forever! (Holds his Enfield Rifle high above his head.)
GENERAL LEE: Son, I don’t know how to break this to ya but this here next to me is Ulysses S. Grant …
PRESIDENT GRANT: (Picks head up off of bar and tips hat to soldier.) Obliged.
GENERAL LEE: And about, oh how long ago was that U?
PRESIDENT GRANT: (Head is back on bar.)
GENERAL LEE: Let’s see, the ninth of April, 186 … 5, and its twenty thousand plus fifteen, so that would be ah, 150 years even; me and Traveler slugged on over to Appomattox where I tendered (looking at Grant) to him the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and which he accepted. That there ended the War Between the States.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: No disrespect General, but I cannot accept that.
GENERAL LEE: LT., Non-taken, but ah … it ain’t really a choice. And besides, the States has really come together since then, you should take a look. Hell, Atlanta even hosted the Olympics back in ’96.
PRESIDENT GRANT: (Picks head up, looks at Lee confused)
GENERAL LEE: 19, not 18 … 96. By the way Grant, can you please tell Sherman to stop tellin’ his joke about how he was the one that lit torch to start the Atlanta Olympics. That just ain’t funny.
PRESIDENT GRANT: (Laughing) Sure … like I could ever control Tecumseh.
(LEE and GRANT acknowledge each other before taking long draws from their mugs. Two other soldiers sitting at table wave to Lee, who nods. One is wearing a white headband with the rising sun set on the middle of his forehead holding a bayoneted Arisaka rifle. Stuffed in his shirt pocket is a crumpled up flyer that reads in Japanese, “The war is over.” The other is dressed in jungle fatigues with an M-16 slung low over his shoulder. His camouflaged helmet has an upside down peace sign pasted on the front and the words, “I’m not a tourist, I live here,” inscribed on the side.)
GENERAL LEE: Are these your friends?
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: Yes sir, we been hanging around so much as none of us can find our rightful units.
GENERAL LEE: No surprise there son.
PRESIDENT GRANT: I take it they’re also disinclined to surrender?
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: (Gives Grant a surprised look.) Sir, is this really Ulysses S. Grant?
GENERAL LEE: In the flesh (looks over at Grant) well kind of.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: (Reaches for his holstered LeMat six shooter.)
GENERAL LEE: (Places his hand over soldier’s.) Now son, I just done told you the war is over, and whether you like it or not, this is not GENERAL GRANT, it’s PRESIDENT Grant. So put that dang gun away before ya commit a capital offense.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: General, no disrespect, but (voice rising) just how in the hail can you just give up. Ain’t the confederacy worth fightin’ for? If it ain’t, what the hail is?
GENERAL LEE: Of course there things worth fighting for. Always have and always will be. I thought the Confederacy was one of those causes. Wouldn’t signed on if I hadn’t. But let me let ya somethin’; at some point history is gonna issue a report card. It may take five, fifty, hell even 500 years before it does. But when that report card gives your side mostly Ds and Fs, well, it’s time to move on. And I think you and your friends need to check the grades and do the same.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: But General, they won’t even let the Stars & Bars fly no more. Say it’s hurtful. But I know a lot of folk just think of it as their heritage, you know, a symbol of their inner rebel.
GENERAL LEE: (Slams mug down on counter) Tell me soldier, how many flags of the defeated side in a civil war of any country in the whole damn world remain flying? Can you think of one? And while it may in fact remind you and others of their heritage, it reminds countless others of the savages of slavery and deaths of over half a million brave soldiers on both sides. And you know it’s still used by those who intend harm on those they still don’t accept! (Picks up mug, takes a sip and gathers himself.) One last thing before you leave me and President Grant to our evening discourse. You want to be a rebel, then be a dang rebel. You don’t need a flag for that. Seems downright contrary in fact, people bein’ all “rebellious” but joining around the flag of a defeated army. A rebel is an individual who seeks his own way of doin’ things. Rebels make their own symbols.
(LEE gives GRANT a “mind your own business” glance. When both men look back, the CONFEDERATE SOLDIER as well as his friends are gone.)
PRESIDENT GRANT: You think he heard you?
GENERAL LEE: Hard to say U, hard to say. The strengths within our character make us great, but also stubborn as all hell. We need to find a better balance, don’t you think?
PRESIDENT GRANT: (Attempting to stand up but wobbly.) That’s true, but right now General, I’d be happy with finding my own balance.
GENERAL LEE: (Helps Grant to sit back down.) That does appear to be the case … hey barkeep, turn that up will ya!
BARKEEP: Sure General.
I was born a rebel
Down in Dixie on a Sunday morning
Yeah – with one foot in the grave
And one foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel.