Of Memorial Day and Confederate statues

Of Memorial Day and Confederate statues

Memorial Day is a particularly fitting time to write about the issue of Confederate monuments. That’s because Memorial Day originated as a day set aside to honor the Civil War dead, not just those who fought for the Union, but those on both sides, including those who died in service of the Confederacy.  It was part of the process of magnanimous victory which enabled the country to heal, perhaps epitomized nowhere better than when both William Tecumseh Sherman and Joseph Johnston served as pallbearers for Ulysses S. Grant.

Part of that process was the erection of monuments in the South to honor their dead, at Civil War battlefields, and also at cemeteries throughout the South. For example, here is one in Foysth Park in Savannah:

I don’t remember if it this monument or not, but supposedly there was a mix-up in the deliveries of two civil war statues, and about 50 years later Savannahan’s learned that atop their monument was – a Union soldier!  A cemetery in Maine is supposedly watched over by a Confederate.  Go figure.

And at Gettysburg, virtually every State whose troops were included in the clash erected monuments in their honor.  Here is Virginia’s:

These two types of monuments, which are either historical battlefield monuments, or are a means of honoring the fallen, are similar to the decorated graves of two British soldiers who fell in the battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775:

I also recall a few years ago that Turkey made a point of its felicitous care of the cemetery of the thousands of fallen Australian and other British Commonwealth soldiers at Gallipoli, shown here:

So I differentiate between Confederate battlefield and cemetery memorials which document a specific historical event or honor the dead, and those which honor the cause of slavery, sedition, and secession, such as monuments to Confederate Generals at County or State buildings.  The only “heritage” being honored there is that of white supremacy.  I doubt very much that black people feel their hearts particularly swelling as they contemplate those statues.

Of course, if those counties and States gave equal prominence to statues commemorating the evil of slavery, such as this:

then maybe they would have a point.

Until then, as far as I am concerned, it is about time for the civic honoring of the Confederacy to end.

Now if we can just remove the status of Andrew Jackson on horseback and in military regalia from the park across the street from the White House:

and give it to the Cherokee to do with as they see fit, we would be making some real progress.