Hunte: I want to know: Why did it take you so long?
Seidule: Why was I such a dumbass? I mean, that is really—it is really the crucial …
Hunte: Sure. [Laughs.] Okay.
Seidule: And yeah, I know! Let’s just put it on there.
Hunte: So this is what I wanted to know. Why did it take so long for a history professor with a Ph.D. to see that the Lost Cause was a myth, a lie. Why did someone with all of the training, all of the facts, just not see the truth?
Seidule: You know, the thing is that history is dangerous because it creates your sense of identity.
I mean, I taught, when I was at West Point, I taught that the Civil War was about slavery. It wasn’t as though I didn’t teach the facts. But somehow I could still revere this person that meant so much in my life.
And that—that was my sin, not looking at that carefully enough. The other part is that I had been wearing “U.S. Army” over my heart for over 20 years.
(Quiet, serious music plays.)
Seidule: I took the oath.
Master of ceremonies: I do solemnly swear.
Army cadets: Do solemnly swear.
Seidule: And the oath that I took, that we—everybody—in fact, everybody in Congress takes …
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States?
Army soldiers: (In unison.) I will support and defend.
Representative Dean Young: The Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic …
Seidule: That oath was written in 1862 as an anti-Confederate oath.
Speaker Pelosi: … against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Army soldiers: (In unison.) Foreign and domestic! (This call-and-response continues, hushed, under narration.)
Seidule: When it says, “Defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic, ”when it says, “No purpose of evasion”? Those are talking about Confederates.
(Slightly eerie music plays.)
Army emcee: And do you bear true faith and allegiance to the same?
Vice President Kamala Harris: (Picking up where the Army emcee left off.) … the same. That you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
Seidule: And so my identity had changed over that time.
Army emcee: And I will obey.
Army soldiers: (In unison.) And I will obey!
Army emcee: The orders of the President of the United States.
Army soldiers: (In unison.) The orders of the President of the United States!
Seidule: My identity was no longer “southerner.” It was no longer “Virginian.” It was no longer even “gentleman.” It was “U.S. Army officer,” which was very important to me. And when I saw that “Lee” in my home of West Point and the United States, that said, “Wait a minute!” That—that’s what the epiphany was, because I identified now as an American, not as a southerner.
Vice President Mike Pence: Do you well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you’re about to enter, so help you God?