Why is It Important to Continue to Preserve Controversial Monuments?
August 1, 2021 | View PDF
Aside from being a practicing attorney I have had an almost lifelong interest in my family history and especially those that were southern soldiers in the War Between the States. I am proud to claim ten, either great-great or great-great great grandfathers that fought to separate the people of the South from a Federal army under Lincoln that had decided they would force the South back into the Union. There are many causes for the War, unfortunately the only cause taught in schools written by the winner in the conflict is that it was all over slavery. I’m not going deep into the causes but if the readers of this article will investigate on their own it will be noted that only a few months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln had corresponded with Horace Greeley and basically stated from a leadership standpoint an indifference to slavery if the Union could be saved. Lincoln did state his personal opinion that he wished all men free. On investigation the reader will find that it was northern slave traders that brought captured African people to be sold into slavery, which though predominant in the south was also found in parts of the north. Further investigation will show the impact of lost tariff money (cotton export) to the Federal government and a desire to bring the South back at bayonet point through invasion and the destruction of southern infrastructure and personal property.
Since the emancipation of the slaves (only from the rebelling states) the Federal government did not appropriately follow through with the necessary steps to give formerly enslaved African Americans the support needed so that all former slaves and their descendants could rise above their unprepared sudden freedom and resultant impoverishment. Even while facing broad discrimination and often lacking the resources needed for success, so many of their descendants have risen to prominence in all areas of American life. The Federal government for so many years have thrown money at the descendants of those emancipated for support without really providing the appropriate resources to maintain a good quality of life.
Unfortunately, the murder of George Floyd by an out of control police officer set off the final nerve of a nation that has struggled with race for hundreds of years. George Floyd was not a model citizen but no one man could be his judge and executioner based on his alleged crime even coupled with resistance to the officers.
I do my best to place the value of a man based on his character and not the color of his skin. I think that Pastor Miles McPherson, founder of the Rock Church in San Diego has provided a great approach in his book, The Third Option. It boils down to the fact that man was created in the image of God. That is all of us and if you sit and talk to someone different from you, you will find something in common to talk about. I think that attitude was what Dr. Martin Luther King saw in his, “I have a dream” speech. I have an African American friend who at times calls me brother and I call him the same in return. We were asked by another in what context the word brother was being used. We both replied in essence that it was in relation to being brothers in Christ. You see my friend, lost his mother to cancer when he was young and as a boy contracted TB and ended up in a TB hospital. Nevertheless, he ended up serving our country in the Army both full time and part time until retirement and managed to gain significant educational and vocational strides in spite of his setbacks as a boy. We have managed to get my son and his same aged grandson together at times where the four of us usually share a meal, a good time and a lot of laughs. He is truly a man motivated to overcome his early tragedies and an example to all of any race that may have been disadvantaged during their formative years.
The first volume of the Confederate Veteran magazine came out in 1893. I have begun to read the old volumes, which have several categories of stories. Some are looking for old soldiers which may have been both friend or foe. Some tell old war stories which I find fascinating. Even those few years removed from the War, I see articles of concern of how the War is remembered. You see, the winners write the history and it’s not always entirely correct. The people of the South especially need to know all of the truth. A March 1893 article was written in support of financial support of those enslaved for at least twenty years prior to the Emancipation.
In verbiage not always considered politically correct for this century, it was advocated that those formerly enslaved during that period and not already in receipt of a pension or Federal support be given a home and land. The writer fondly recalled so many of those enslaved that impacted his life and wished rather than living close in poor quarters in a city be given a home and land where they could support themselves and be in a healthier environment. All of this from a Confederate Veteran magazine writer. You see a reparation of those actually harmed makes more sense than reparations for those now living of a particular skin color regardless of whether they are descendants of slaves.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe the Federal government ever followed through on the advocacy of many to help those formerly enslaved to have the better life that they deserved.
The other concern I see in the magazine were those raising money to erect memorials to the War dead and those that served in the Confederate service. Just as we memorialize those men who died at Pearl Harbor or those people that died at the World Trade Center when the horrors are still fresh so did the people of the south when over 600,000 Americans had died in the War Between the States. The statues and memorials raised often by peoples long dead remind us of the struggles of their lives. These were real life and death struggles, they are a part of history whether liked or not. To attempt to cancel history by removing reminders is both ignorant and more divisive.
Recognizing the ideals of a far left that supports the destruction of many memorials to sectional or national heroes, the State of Alabama passed legislation in 2017 to protect such monuments and memorials. Many other states have also done so either prior to or subsequent to Alabama’s law. Even the remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife have been removed from a Memphis park because even though he led the Ku Klux Klan for a period until he determined it to be too violent he also was known to have fought to protect all citizenry in Selma and other areas invaded by Federal troops. Even the protecting laws have not been enough as some municipalities have elected to pay the fines or rogue citizens have stolen or toppled monuments because they have no self control or respect or a desire to understand factual histories different from their current, anarchist type ideals.
As always if you do not have an attorney, ask a trusted friend or family member or contact the Alabama State Bar, Lawyer Referral service.
Ronald A. Holtsford, Esq., Ronald A. Holtsford, LLC, 7956 Vaughn Road, Box #124, Montgomery, AL 36116, (334) 220-3700, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is informative only and not meant to be all inclusive. Additionally this article does not serve as legal advice to the reader and does not constitute an attorney- client relationship. The reader should seek counsel from their attorney should any questions exist.”No representation is made that the quality of legal services performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”