Confederate Monuments

We’ll set the stage for this post…

We are staying in Ashland, Virginia, about an hour away from Charlottesville and just north of Richmond. The local news stories center on the tragedy in Charlottesville and the call for the removal of all confederate monuments. We are surrounded by Civil War sites in an area rich in southern history. Our visits to the Holocaust museum, Martin Luther King, Jr memorial and Mt Vernon and Monticello (with their slave plantations) are fresh in our memory.

We’ve been thinking a lot lately:

  • About the suppression of human rights and slavery

  • About crowd mentality

  • About violence and the abuse of power

In our opinion, the removal of all confederate monuments is a complicated issue. On one hand, we can see that they serve as a bitter reminder of a people oppressed. On the other hand, they are a part of history and tradition.

We both have great, great grandpas that fought for the Union in the Civil War, so we have no allegiance to the south. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore its history.

Undeniably, slavery was a horrible, terrible institution. And it was a big reason for the war between the states. But the war was also about politics, states rights, trade agreements and a tradition of life.

Should history be ignored? Shouldn’t history be accepted for what it was – no matter how heinous? And presented in such a way to educate? We saw this presented poignantly at the Holocaust museum.

Has freedom of speech been confused with displays of public hatred? Racism in any guise is wrong. How did the neo-Nazis and white supremacists get caught up in all this?

Friends of ours from Richmond took us to downtown Richmond to Monument Avenue where we saw the very impressive monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E Lee.

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The governor of Virginia has ordered these removed.

We also visited Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond and saw the grave of Jefferson Davis.

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The family plot includes a life-size statue of Jefferson Davis

Will his gravesite monument statue also be ordered removed?

What about the monuments at Gettysburg where the dead from both north and the south are equally honored?

Will our grandchildren be taught that all southerners were evil? Or will the Civil War just be ignored in history all together?

Tolerance, civility, rational thinking not hatred, politics or impulsiveness are called for here.