Letter: Removing the Confederate monument in Virginia Beach cannot erase past we must remember

Dear Editor:

I am completely perplexed as to why monuments that are more than 100 years old are suddenly under attack. I am also annoyed at the lack of knowledge as to what they represent and the reason they are important. 

Any monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee, an anti-slavery Confederate*, would be one of the monuments one would expect an anti-slavery movement would applaud rather than ignorantly proclaiming it a symbol of slavery. Are these people aware that slavery has been abolished in the United States of America? 

Slavery does still exist in other parts of the world. Working to free those slaves would seem a more productive use of their time than assaulting inanimate objects and proclaiming them pro-slavery and that allowing them to stand is allowing slavery to happen.

The monument to honor fallen Confederate soldiers at the site of the former Princess Anne County Courthouse in no way promotes, honors or attempts to revive slavery. It stands stoically over many passersby that likely take no notice of this symbol and tribute to a part of our past.

It stands as a reminder of those who fought and died for state rights, and, yes, those rights then included to be either a slave or free state, and they fought to keep our federal government from usurping the powers of the people. 

Even the South was divided on slavery, and I personally believe that had the Confederacy won its independence there would have been another war over slavery that divided the South. Removing these monuments will not remove our past, and we should remember our past so as to not make the same mistakes again.

For me, monuments of and to the Confederacy – like the Confederate battle flag – are what you make them. Instead of taking down statues, why are we not putting up statues of the Nat Turners and Harriet Tubmans of that day to stand with those Confederate soldiers, as a symbol of a coming together and a reminder of what has been accomplished? 

– William Godwin III, Blackwater

* Ed. — The complicated idea of Lee as anti-slavery is discussed in this article by Roy Blount Jr. in Smithsonian Magazine.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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