Monumental Thoughts on Charlottesville

Perhaps it is time . . . for a time (for all time?).

I was a teacher, now retired. I spent some forty years teaching middle school/junior high aged students. For most of those years I taught History (American and World), as well as English, Shop and Computers.

When the subject was the American Civil War, I remember dividing the class into two groups — North and South — for games. I also recall Sister Leanda doing this to our eighth grade class a half-century ago.

It is still being done. Last year I was walking through a park in back of one of our local middle schools and a class was playing softball divided into North and South teams.

There are statues, schools, monuments and other memorials to the leaders and soldiers of both the Union and the Confederacy scattered throughout the United States.

For most of my life I have given no thought to the negatives associated with some of these memorials. The recent events surrounding the Charlottesville, VA marches and protests and associated violence have changed this.

Once one opens his eyes it is quite easy to see how the memorials to those who tried to sunder apart the United States and preserve the institution of slavery affect those whose ancestors were slaves.

If the South had won the Civil War, the institution of slavery would have been preserved and might still be in existence. Of course, as slavery died for economic, as well as moral and political, reasons in the North prior to the Civil War, it might have also have done so in the South later in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries.

Judging by the events of the last two weeks, there are still people who feel as though the Confederacy should have won the war and that the “peculiar institution” should still hold sway.

The KKK and Jim Crow laws were instituted for the singular purpose of keeping the black man in his place and keeping the white man in control — politically and economically. In effect, a de facto preservation of slavery.

We were not the first people to enslave others and we are not the last to have done so. Slavery, in several different forms, still exists in our world and will not disappear in our lifetimes.

We cannot undo all the evils for which slavery has been responsible, but perhaps, we can further mitigate the effects of those evils.

No American alive today is, or has ever been, a slave owner or slave in the system as it existed in the antebellum South. But many of us are descendants of those who were.

Slavery and discrimination have left metaphorical scars and open ulcerated sores on many of those whose ancestors were slaves. And the recent events in Charlottesville have simply rubbed salt into these wounds.

Perhaps it is time to remove from public view, at least for a time, the monumental reminders of that age, now a century and a half removed.

The old soldiers and politicians who fought so long ago no longer care. (And, if the Christian God they professed belief in actually exists, I doubt there is either color or racial differentiation in either heaven or hell.)

Perhaps it is time to remove these hurtful reminders of an age long dead.

Perhaps we should all begin to agree with the sentiment behind those hopeful, if a bit hypocritical, words penned by Thomas Jefferson back in the days before the United States existed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, . . .”

“Men” now meaning men and women, white, black, yellow, brown and red.

It will not hurt us to put away these symbols and it may, just may, help our country.

Isn’t it worth the effort to try? Perhaps . . .


Focus — Confederate Monuments

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