Don’t tear down our monuments!
No, this is really not about Confederate Monuments. They just happen to be on this year’s tear down list. But the reason being used to take down the Confederate Monuments is sure to be used on other similar monuments. This is the reasoning: the Civil War is deemed to be a bad war for a whole host of reasons. In some circles, where it’s labeled a bad war, they want all plaques, monuments, signs, and statues commemorating the losing side in that war destroyed.
Okay, so I guess that means we need to start determining good wars and bad wars, and then, of course, we’ll take down the memorials to bad wars. But it seems that the winners always say their war was a good war. Of course, if we consider recent wars, it’s hard to find a good one. The Gulf War to destroy the non-existent weapons of mass destruction or the never ending war in Afghanistan? If we review the long list of good and bad wars, it’s hard to find a war that is justified, except for the Second World War. And if we check on all war monuments, signs, and statutes, we’ll find almost every war has its share. What do we do about all these pieces of history? Do we attempt to remove the “bad” war monuments? I sure don’t think so.
I believe the destruction of any monument that was erected in memory of a fallen soldier is wrong, and when we start down that path there is no ending. Certainly, we can look at the Civil War and without question mark it as our countries greatest tragedy. However, how about the Mississippi mother who lost three sons at Gettysburg, and after the war was over, helped raise the funds to erect a memorial to her fallen Confederate soldiers. Can you imagine that mother’s grief as she stood on a courthouse square and watched as the statue of a Confederate Soldier was unveiled? Do we have a. moral obligation to keep that monument, or can we just destroy it? But let’s go a step further: Millions of Americans believe the Vietnam War was immoral and wrong. There were not only +50,000 Americans killed, but as many as 2,000,000 Vietnamese. Should we tear down all the memorials to that War? But before you answer, can you even imagine the pain of a father or brother as they trace the name of their fallen soldier on the Vietnam wall?
I think what we must do is to consider the loss of American lives and its impact on our people. If we look at each of our war memorials as a tribute to a fallen soldier, the rush to erase history will diminish. Only when we put the personal feelings in place of a piece of granite can we realize that when a piece of stone was dedicated to the fallen of any American war there were family and friends who stood and looked at that dedication moment and mourned the loss. When we do that, we will put aside the good and bad war idea, and only look at the monument as a tribute to a fallen American hero.
Certainly, a monument in Germany to Hitler shouldn’t be allowed, but a monument to the Germany soldiers who died in that conflict should be. Yes, I agree slavery was a horrible part of our southern history, but 90% of the Southern Soldiers who fought in the war never owned slaves, and many of our nation’s founders owned slaves, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Surely, we wouldn’t try to erase our heritage by removing any reference to them. Well, let’s look at our founding fathers. How many of the ones who signed the Declaration of Independences were slaveholders? The answer is 41 including Benjamin Franklin. Do we cut their names out of the Declaration of Independence? Of course not! Surely that should put to rest any idea that owning of slaves is a reason for banishment. It seems, we Americans are swayed by current events to respond irrationally to a tragedy by doing something, and many times later, after cooler heads reflect on the actions taken, they are reversed.
Ninety percent of the Confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves, so why did they fight? They fought for many reasons, but many expressed the simple statement that they fought to defend their homes.
The Civil War stirs deep passions in some people, and the idea that the breaking up of a statue would cause a mentally unbalanced individual to do an irrational act is enough of a reason to leave the monuments alone.
Let’s that a look at all the monuments around our country, not just the Confederate ones. I believe they have one overriding similarity. It’s very simple: they exist as monuments to American heroes who gave their lives in battle. To me an American who gave his life on the beaches of Normandy, a soldier who died in the jungles of Vietnam, a Union soldier who died at Bull Run, and a Confederate soldier who yelled “For Virginia” as he charged across the fields of Gettysburg and died, are all American heroes, and if a group of Americans want to build a monument to their courage and memory, they should be allowed to, and no one should remove it.