After observing actions throughout the South to remove statues of confederate generals, I feel compelled to write this treatise condemning such measures. I especially condemn the actions of those who take it upon themselves to break the law by destroying or defacing these statues. It is obvious that these individuals are ignorant of the history of our country and should be prosecuted. I can understand the wish to remove the Confederate battle flags from flying over public buildings because this symbol has been hijacked by hate groups, but not so with the statues. They represent a part of our history. I don’t see them as a symbol of hate or of slavery. I see them as a portrayal of great leaders of men and great generals who exhibited character, valor, devotion to duty, and superior military tactics. These men were not evil. They were complex and many struggled to arrive at their decision to fight for the South. General Lee was an example of this. He did not support succession from the Union, but could not bring himself to fight against his fellow Virginians. When the war was over he was instrumental in helping to heal the wounds between the North and the South.
What concerns me the most is not knowing where these actions will end. This could become the proverbial “slippery slope”. What do we do with the 41 signers of the Declaration of Independence who were slave owners. These slave owners included such men as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, and John Hancock to name a few. Do we tear down their statues or erase their names from the history books? What do we do with the name of our capitol and Washington State? These were named for George Washington, a slave owner. And what do we do with the Washington Monument? The following bases were also named after Confederate generals: Camp Beauregard, LA; Fort Benning, GA; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort A.P. Hill, VA; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Pickett, VA; Fort Polk, LA; and Fort Rucker, Alabama. Do we change their names?
My own hometown of Clarksburg, WV is not immune from the above mentioned situations. Clarksburg is located in Harrison County (named after Benjamin Harrison, a slave owner). Should the county’s name be changed? To further compound things, Clarksburg is the birth place of Stonewall Jackson and there is a statue of Stonewall in front of the courthouse. Does the statue get removed? I hope not.
I cannot deny that slavery was an abomination, but destroying our history does not erase this black mark. I cannot support the removal of these statues, but if they are to be removed they should be removed with the appropriate approval of the state and local governments, and not by angry mobs composed of thugs trying to violently impose their will on others.
Beech Mountain, N.C./Florida