It is human nature to want to honor those who are seen as heroes or leaders who represent ideals of service to the common good. Thus we have a variety of monuments all across this country: Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, Teddy Roosevelt astride his horse, monuments to fallen soldiers.
Autocrats have also had a penchant for erecting statues or portraits of themselves as great leaders to the peoples they are subjugating: Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung come to mind.
It is no surprise when statues of the latter are torn down by jubilant peoples when they overthrow their tyrants. They may be “history,” but not history worth celebrating, only in removing those symbols of such painful memories.
So it is with the discussions we Americans are now having around statues honoring Confederate leaders and generals. They, too, represent history. But not everyone views that history positively.
I thought former Governor Roy Barnes was absolutely correct in pushing the state legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag emblem from the Georgia state flag. It was long overdue. I am glad that Mississippi has finally done the same thing. This is not 1890, this is 2020. There is no place in today’s society for keeping such public symbols that are painful reminders of terrible times for so many.
The discussions we ought to be having, I think, is not about whether to remove those statues honoring Confederate leaders and generals, but should be what to put up in their place; and what criteria we use to decide who or what should be worthy of honoring.
We are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God. We should be working together for our common good. In all things. All else is but distractions.
Raphael Semmes, Midway