A few nights ago I was lecturing my mother about something when she posed a question to me: What do you think about the removal of Civil War Monuments in the South? Naturally, I felt the urge to lecture her with a multi-part answer. I believe the question has several layers, with each requiring an answer. With Michelle and my mother seated on the couch, I began to answer the question.
Instead of structuring my answer so it could crescendo with a finale I could be proud of, I stepped right into the middle of the fray. I nailed a chord that many would probably find categorically wrong and utterly typical of a northern liberal.
The monuments are celebrating, in some sense, a foreign enemy of the United Sates, and therefore should not be held in high esteem. I say the Confederate States of America were foreign because they separated themselves from the rest of the country and wrote a document that would serve as a basis for their government. This uplifting treatment is disrespectful of the sacrificial gifts of our (past and present) military personnel.
The current residents of these southern towns and cities are citizens of the United States of America. By defending these monuments, they are in part, promoting a foreign entity that was hostile to their country. This act of promotion is certainly disrespectful and unkind to the actions taken by services members of the United States military during the Civil War.
However, there was a Civil War that ripped through this nation. The conflict broke the country in two. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. This did happen, and we should not forget this important fact. If we remove the reminders of this tragedy, we are more likely to make the same mistakes again. In this sense, it could be said the monuments do stand as representatives of the Confederate States of America, however instead of being thought of as heroes, which they can never be in this country since they were our enemy, they should be a reminder of the scale of the war.
“Southern history” is still American history, no matter how embarrassing or ugly some may find it. Eroding this history will never remove the tarnish and bloody memories that arise when contemplating the Civil War. Rather than attempting to sweep this event under the rug, we should be reminded of what occurred. We shouldn’t skip over the fact that a disagreement on a series of social (and moral, depending on who you ask) issues fractured this nation.