When thinking about whether historical monuments should be removed I think of the words of the American philosopher George Santayana are most appropriate: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". The folks who are defacing Civil War monuments should be prosecuted. They could learn a lesson from survivors of the Holocaust. There is a reason why the concentration camps still stand as memorials to 8 million that died. If we forget our history, it will repeat. The monuments should remain.
Contrary to current anti-Confederate belief, the Confederacy WASN'T fighting to maintain slavery but against the invasion and exploitation by the Federal Government. Caucasians weren't the only ones who served in the Confederate fighting forces. So did some African Americans, and I mean as free combatants, not just slave labor. Native Americans and Hispanics also served as fighters on the Confederate side.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis said in his inaugural that the Confederacy was not fighting for slavery.While a few seceding states did mention slavery as a cause for their secession in their articles of secession, this isn't the same as saying they went to war to maintain it. Besides, the vast majority of the seceding states made no mention of slavery as a cause of their secession in the remaining articles of secession. And the majority of slave owners actually REJECTED the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia as the South's national flag. So keep the Confederate statues, they're not racist.
The soldiers of the Confederacy fought just as bravely for their states as did Union soldiers. Neither knew if they would, at that time, be on the side of history in the 21st century. To try and erase the monuments to these soldiers is like trying to erase history. You cannot do so and, to forget history, is to encourage its repetition. We must all remember this war was fought in a widely divided new nation with beliefs running deep.....much as our nation is divided today. Intolerance for a way of life in the South and refusal to accept demands from the North led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, a scorched landscape and brother fighting brother.
A United country struggled to become one again. The success of that struggle showed us it can be done and we now need to look at that struggle, be reminded of it, and work once more to instill tolerance of another's views, engage in civil discourse, and solve our current problems together.
Removing statues, monuments, gravesites and tombstones, renaming schools, universities, clubs and sports teams is not the way to improve relations or tolerance of others. It is, once again, leading to greater divide. Embrace our history and make sure we do not ever again make anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion feel as if they are not full citizens of our great country. Everyone is entitled to the same rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and reminding ourselves of how far we have come (and how much is left to do) is the only way to continue to build on those rights.