Post-911, Flag-Waving Militarism
What Fifteen Years Can Do, a Sad Night in Georgia
by Ellen Finnigan
I left Georgia in 1996, the year Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, the year Bill Clinton was reelected President, the year I graduated from high school. I haven’t been back much since, except to visit my parents on the holidays, and that was always what I was doing: visiting my parents. I was never going home for the holidays because Atlanta was never home. We are not Southerners and never were. We are Midwesterners who were transplanted in the nineties, when major corporations were relocating from places like Greenwich, Connecticut to take advantage of cheaper real estate and better tax rates, and so, as far as the likes of our new neighbors at the time were concerned, were as good as Yankees.
Due to the influx of corporate money and Northern blood, our suburban area was the third fastest-growing county in the U.S. when my family moved here in 1992 (I was a freshman). Half my classes were held in trailers, a quick fix to accommodate new students, and I’m sure that at the time the real Georgians would have said, “Atlanta is not the South,” but it sure was to me. I found my new surroundings to be downright exotic: the creepy canopies of kudzu; sounds of cicadas at night; girls (Laurie, Lindsey, Stacey, Kellie, Carrie) who wore ribbons in their hair and guys who had started playing football, not soccer, in the second grade. On my first day of high school I noticed that a few of the kids in my first period class had Bibles on their desks. “Is this Geometry?” I asked one of them. “I think I might be in the wrong room.” The girl (Chrissie?) said I was in the right place and asked me if I had been saved. When a teacher encouraged me a few weeks later to participate in the Miss Freshman Pageant, I knew: This was the South alright.