There has been a great deal of debate about the memorial to Confederate soldiers and statesmen that are still scattered around the country, and whether we should continue to memorialize those who died in the Civil War for the Confederacy.
For some, these are emblems of a dark time in American history, a time when we enslaved our fellow man. For others they represent a period of time when men were more free to govern themselves, and a more genteel society. For most, they are simply markers of a time best left to history texts and a reminder of a time when Americans fought each other to the death over the issues that then faced the nation.
In the American Civil war, we saw fathers fighting sons, brothers fighting with brothers, and friends fighting with lifelong neighbors. It led to a brutal war with communities razed to the ground, and more casualties than the entire population of slaves in the U.S. at that time.
Why on earth do we want to relitigate that war again?
By demanding that these historical markers be destroyed or torn down, we are in effect, reopening old wounds that never properly healed, or were never truly resolved. The debates that destroyed this nation once before, are now being reexamined and discussed both politely and unfortunately, with the same bombastic rhetoric that led us into the massive casualties of the Civil War.
Two sides of the coin; federalists and anti-federalist warring again, over the future of American society. It will end with the same predictable outcome that we had the first time, as well.
However, we do not have the same issues corrupting our democracy that we did 150 years ago. We do not have slavery or institutionalized bondage of any kind now in America. We have accepted the rights of states to self govern. We are a far more inclusive and opportunistic society than we were in the 1860’s.
We are fighting over a cause that simply does not exist the way it did back then.
We are arguing simply to argue.
Lincoln knew best when he talked about healing a nation in his second inaugural address, and we would do well to heed his words, lest we tread down this path again.
He spoke of letting go of the issues that drove us apart. He allowed Confederates to return home and rebuild their wrecked cities and homes. He demanded no reparations. He accepted and brokered nothing; except in the fact that we need to bury our dead and our passions that drove us apart.
Many monuments and markers were erected in the ensuing years– not a single one memorialized slavery or the issues that the Confederacy represented, only the facts that Americans fought and died and that we should not forget their loss.
Fair warning: If we continue along this path, it will result once again in a broken nation, culture and people in the same way it did all those years ago.
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