Descendant of Confederate soldier says statue sends wrong message
To the Editor:
My great-great-grandfather, a captain in the Confederate army, died at the Battle of Antietam. He was eventually buried in a grave in his home state of South Carolina. His church wrote movingly of his valor and integrity.
I have visited his gravestone and have learned much about his personal history. But I would be deeply troubled if a monument to my Confederate ancestor had been erected fifty years after the end of the Civil War.
He died in a losing battle on the wrong side of history. Not a slaveholder himself, he yielded to the pressure of his state and his neighbors to fight in fear that freed slaves would turn on their former masters and wreak havoc in the South.
The Confederate soldier statue in Bell County represents retaliation for that loss, a way of saying “We may have lost the battle, but you didn’t get rid of our sense of superiority.” The message this and other 20th-century CSA statues sends to people of color is that the mindset of those who fought to resist the freedom of their forebears has not budged. Hatred and ignorance still have a symbol out in public, taunting those whose ancestors were oppressed in a land that disingenuously proclaimed the equality of man.
Moving the statue to a museum where explanation would accompany the statue might actually help conversation around this most painful of American experiences. Do not simply say, “Oh, what difference does one little statue make? Leave it alone.” Because the wound will continue to fester.