I consider myself to be somewhat of a shade tree philosopher. I sit back, watch what is going on around me, and draw my own conclusions.
Living in the south, the big controversy lately had been over confederate monuments and statues. A lot of people want them removed, hidden, etc. And some have gone so far as to destroy, vandalize and tear some of them down. I have many thoughts on this subject, so this may be a long blog post. Just bear with me.
Prior to 1861 the United States, as it was, was involved in several wars in states and territories across the nation, usually against foreign or indian enemies. In 1861, however, our country was involved in the first major war in our history. Depending on whom you ask, there were a lot of reasons as to why the war was fought; economic reasons, territorial reasons, political reasons, etc. There are a lot of people who want to think that the sole reason for the war was so that the South could keep slavery alive. I don’t know what the reason was. I wasn’t around over 150 years ago. Those of you who were, please enlighten the rest of us, huh? Regardless of why it was fought, the fact remains that anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000+ men and women (yes, women, too) died during the war.
Most of the dead came from small towns, or places not big enough to be called a town, with small populations, mainly consisting of farmers, hunters and trappers, black- and metal smiths. There were many many small towns in a given area or circuit. When a large number of a population is wiped out in a war, the people of the area want to do something to memorialize their dead. That’s why there are so many monuments. Every town wanted to build one to remind the people of the sacrifices made by their townfolk during the war. If you think that the South is the only place with monuments and statues, commemorating their civil war dead, you’re wrong. Every state that was a member of the United States after the war has its monuments and statues. Even the northern states. I have been to many small towns, parks and battlefields and looked upon their monuments and statues, dedicated to confederate and union soldiers. Not once did I ever see the words “dedicated to those who died to keep slavery alive” or “dedicated to those who died to abolish slavery”. The monuments and statues were dedicated to ALL THOSE WHO DIED! PERIOD! So stop using these in the South to bring up a war and an issue that is over 150 years old. No one has owned slaves since Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And it has been several generations since anyone has been a slave.
The way I see it, it’s not that there are so many monuments and statues from a very negative time in our nation’s history around the country. It’s that there aren’t enough monuments and statues to commemorate the positive things that have been accomplished since then. I am a southern born and raised, middle-aged white man. I am all for civil rights. I feel that Black History Month is an affront. Something that was created to appease the civil rights leaders of that time to let them think that they had won a small victory. Why not have it all year round? I know that some places are doing this, but why isn’t everyone doing it? Why do we focus on the lives and achievements of blacks only during the month of February? Some of these achievements changed the way we – whites, as well as blacks and everyone else – live today. Every city and town has a black man or woman that they can be proud of. Where are the statues dedicated to them? There are pictures and small plaques, maybe. So why not bigger plaques and statues? Instead of tearing down and removing and defacing monuments and statues that you find offensive, why not put up your own, and be proud of what has been accomplished over the last century. In South Carolina we have a confederate monument on the state house grounds dedicated to those who died in the civil war. I would have no problem putting up one beside it, just as big, dedicated to the first black state legislator, or judge, or secretary of something (you get the idea). Let’s quit being divided over battles that were over in 1865, and come together and celebrate what we’ve done since then. As a town. As a city. As a state. And as a nation.
That’s the way I see it.