A Band of Brothers

Me and Ike Baker Apr 2017 Pikeville KY croppedJune 28, 2017

I’ve been home from Alabama for a few days now, my thoughts about last week at the League Conference have jelled and coalesced to some extent, and I’m back into the routine of life on this Appalachian ridge. Keeping the business running with the endless issues requiring my attention every day, paying the three young (8, 9, & 11) brothers from down the holler to weed my garden, hoe the corn, and pick the beetles off my ‘tater and ‘mater plants three or four times a week. Sitting down daily with my wife for supper and asking each day for the continued blessings of Providence. Life is good, and it has been good for a while. Life was good for us even before coming back to these mountains thirteen years ago, though it improved immeasurably with that move. We live within ten miles of where I was born and raised, in the East Kentucky mountains where my people have dwelt since the country was new, since before this Commonwealth became a state. I had thought I might never leave here again, a sort of modern day Cincinnatus, living the rest of my allotted time on this earthly plane as a man of the land. Now it is all different. Everything is different. I am different.

Two years ago after a conversation with Dr. Hill, I joined the premier Southern Nationalist organization, the League of the South. I attended a few roadside “show the flag” demonstrations, I broke bread with my compatriots, and I made some great acquaintances and a few frends on social media. I was happy to be a part of something in which I believe so wholeheartedly. The League holds a National Conference each June at the Alabama Chapter building in Wetumpka, Alabama, and I thought, I seriously thought, that I’d either shut down my operation and go, or ask a cousin to oversee the business for a few days while I went. In both years I did neither. Then our culture began to boil over. Chaos represents opportunity. A repugnant marxist group known as “antifa” (anti-fascist action) was on the streets committing violence against citizens doing no more than peaceably exercising their rights. Last April, the League of the South met those people head to head in E. Kentucky, and I participated in a potentially very hazardous operation with my League comrades in Pikeville, Kentucky. That is where I saw for the first time the caliber of men I was among. We all truly expected that day to descend into a donnybrook, we were armed but we were severely outnumbered, we almost certainly would have been overrun, and yet there we stood. Driving home that night, my mind was reeling. The things I was feeling had lain dormant in me for two and a half decades. I recognized what was coursing through me, I knew those feelings and I remembered those sentiments, they were very familiar…

I’ve had the great good fortune in my life to be part of a “band of brothers” a couple of times in the past. The first was high school football in the 1970’s, when every coach worth the title was channeling Vince Lombardi as hard as he could, which during two a day August practices, full contact drills, agility exercises, and endless wind sprints etcetera, led to us teenage young men receiving a small taste of what it was to endure privation and hardship as an organization larger than the sum of its parts, as a team. Later, in an infantry company during my time in the US Marine Corps, I received an adult sized dose of how suffering together, going into harm’s way together, and sacrificing together can forge a group of men into a tribalistic “family”, a Band of Brothers. A group each dedicated to the other, willing to lay it all down for a brother with no hesitation. These were the old, familiar things I felt rising in me, as I drove those dark and winding mountain roads home from Pikeville.

In a moment of clarity, I knew I was going to Wetumpka this year.

From the staff meeting on Thursday night in which I participated, to the closing with the singing of “Dixie” on Saturday afternoon, the League Conference filled my heart. My cup truly runneth over. To call the League a family fits but does not suffice. We are a Folk, we are a Tribe, we are a Clan of old, we are a force to be reckoned with. We are young, we are old, we are everything in between. Our young mothers bring their babies to show us, there to be held tenderly, cooed to and fussed over even by our roughest of men. There is love present, there is fierceness present, there is filial concern present. The spirit of Almighty God animates us and animates our cause.

The devotion to our leaders is palpable and real. The socializing and fellowship which occurs during the breaks and after hours, taken alone, would be worth the trip to the Heart of Dixie. I had the occasion to meet, among so many others whom I met, a fine Southern lady particularly dear to me, one of our revered widows, whose embrace I treasured. There were plentiful opportunities to socialize and share stories at supper both nights, and I sat with the men and women of the League in the courtyard of our lodgings until the hour became late as old friends, not as folks in many cases meeting for the first time.

But it is the Conference itself which draws our Folk from near and far, even from far outside the borders of the Southland. One good son of Dixie and his sweet wife, folks whom I had looked forward to finally meeting in person, came from Wyoming. There was no state in the South not represented. The speeches and the talks stir the soul and cause the blood to rise. The spirit of the Southern people is alive and well, dear friends, and it was openly and unapologetically upon display in that hall. When our leader, Dr. Michael Hill, a man who must surely be what a War Chieftain of a Scottish Highland Clan looked like, rose to take the lectern for his talk, the room was electric with anticipation. His talk was rousing, laced with Gaelic war cries and his moving call to fight for the survival of our people cannot fail to spur us to action. Our other speakers were also very inspiring, and the keynote address, delivered by none other than Dr. David Duke, closed the roster of speakers in fitting fashion. After a musical interlude by Paddy Tarleton, we sang Dixie, then with sincere regrets at parting and promises of “Next Year!,” we left the League building.

What did I take away from all this? I realized how sorely I had missed this in my life. “Camaraderie”, and “Esprit d’ Corps” barely describes what I found in Wetumpka. Though accurate, those words are inadequate. What I truly rediscovered was an ethos. An ethos of how to live this life which we have been given, an ethos I once lived by, which had slumbered within me for twenty five years. Dedication to a cause, dedication to one another, the willingness to sacrifice in the furtherance of a cause. The ability to give loyalty and the ability to accept loyalty. The feeling of belonging to a thing which is far, far more than just the sum of its parts – shared by comrades who feel that same belonging. Accountability to one another, and to our leaders. A deep and abiding sense of honor and obligation toward comrades and toward the League. The sure knowledge that when the time comes to lay something dear on that altar, there will be a long line of our Folk ready and willing to do that. “We are a Band of Brothers, Native to the Soil, Fighting for our Liberty with Treasure, Blood and Toil…” This is me, this is us, and in the Name of the Lord God of Hosts, may we prevail. I consider it the most profound personal honor to count myself among you.

“We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers…”

My heart is full, and I love you all.

Deo Vindice and God Save the South!

Ike Baker

Categories: Commentary

About Author

Michael Hill

Dr Michael Hill is President of the League of the South. He is a retired university professor of history and author of two books on Celtic warfare.