Okay. I know. Removing confederate statues is old national news, but I still want to place my two cents worth on the issue, since I am a Civil War History buff.
In September 2017, I took a driving trip to visit Civil War Battlefields that I missed on past trips to Tennessee and Kentucky. The majority of the battlefields I visited were in the heart of Nathan Bedford Forrest territory in Tennessee where the “Wizard of the Saddle” is still held in high regard (at least by the white-male population I spoke with).
The topic of confederate statue removal was timely then and I asked people I ran into along the way their thoughts on the topic. Mostly I spoke with white men age thirty-five and older, who I ran into at cafes, on the battlefields, at motels, visitor centers, etc. Two dozen or so conversations creates a small sample. Too small to generalize the feelings of a state or even a county.
My stance on the issue of confederate statues was and is that they should be kept at national parks, national monuments, museums and cemeteries where there is historical context. Statues should be removed from any civic space and city parks that have no historical context relating to the war between the states.
The basic reply I received was on the lines of “The statues have always been there. Why is this a fuss?” Some of the men pointed out that Forrest and other confederate generals are still regarded as heroes by the local population. Why should their heroes not be memorialized like Yankee heroes across the north with their statues. To this I would point out that, in general, African-Americans find the statues to be distasteful, constant reminders of Jim Crow oppression and the era of slavery. This usually got me a shoulder shrug response. One man latched on to the word “distasteful” and told me he found U. S. Grant distasteful since one of his ancestors died fighting at Shiloh and asked if he could petition to get all the Grant statues removed from the country.
I failed to persuade any Tennessean or Kentuckian to my point of view. They failed to persuade me to their point of view. I think, in the end, each municipality will have to make its deliberation and go through a public decision making process about their confederate statues’ removal or maintenance. I think it is wrong for city governments to remove statues in the middle of the night as if they are thieves, even if I agree that the statues should go.
Wikipedia on the Confederate Statue Removal.
Side note: At the battlefield information center at Parkers Crossroads, the woman behind the counter was a descendant of the Parkers (a grand-daughter, I forget how many greats) who the crossroad town is named after. We had a lovely chat filled with her family lore about the battle and some farm history. Much of the battle took place upon their family farmland.
If you have any thoughts on the maintenance or removal of confederate statues, please share in the comment section.
Today is baseball’s opening day. I consider it the first true day of Spring, but that is just me. Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I still root for the Cubs and White Sox and lean toward whichever team is having the better year.
My prediction for the World Series is Cubs for the National League and I think the Red Sox pitching will carry them into the Fall Classic for the American League.