I've recently found myself, like many others, in an uneasy state of mind the last few days. The events of Charlottesville this past weekend and some of the events that have unfolded since then have been a trying time for many of us. Naturally, thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives during this ordeal.
Like many, I watched these events unfold with horror and sadness. Hate begets hate, and I think that's the point some have tried to make, but in this charged and volatile atmosphere, it seems that almost anything can be construed to violate some construct of what is supposed to be correct, proper or acceptable.
Reprehensible purveyors of hate and evil descended upon a town in which hardly any of them were citizens of and then proceeded to get into it with various people who were in opposition to them. I'm sure a lot of these folks were truly appalled with this grotesque display, but I also feel that some of them were people who thrive off of hate, and maybe just chaos in general. Identity, mob-mentality & us vs. them politics, where it was all or nothing and ends justified the means, ensued, and then people died while the country looked on in disbelief.
As I've mentioned before, I'm basically a 6th generation Newtonian (my Great Grandfather married a Broughton girl, so we were in Morgan Co. for one of those generations). My Great-Great Grandfather, William Marion McCart Sr., served in the Confederacy as a volunteer in the GA E 53. He answered the call of his state, and, by all accounts, fought valiantly for the "lost cause." He did not, nor did any other member of my family as far as I've been able to discern, ever own a slave. They were poor folk. Dirt farmers, sharecroppers & carpenters.
In 1906 the Daughters of the Confederacy erected a statue in the center of the Covington Square to memorialize those sons of Newton Co. who answered the call of their state, the governing authority at the time, and specifically those who gave their lives. Unlike some memorials throughout the south, this monument was not placed during the 1950s or 60s as a show of defiance against integration or civil rights. That, in my opinion, is an extremely important distinction.
I've oftentimes thought about the discussions of that group of ladies over a century ago. Many of those women, the older ones, probably had a direct connection to that awful chapter of our country's history. One would presume that at least a few of them lost their Fathers during that conflict. Almost all of them heard about it from family members who witnessed it firsthand. That monument is a memorial to those who served in that conflict. That , I believe, should be a vital consideration.
Since June of this year, there's been at least one person who has publicly stated their desire to see that monument removed. I posted about that at the time and recounted a conversation I had with Nancy Shulz, BOC 3 Commissioner. Apparently she's spoken with others who might also have an issue with it, and so have I. It's something that certainly needs to be discussed, and it is being discussed. As I write this, I'm supposed to be meeting with some folks soon to do just that. We need to be willing to listen to one another.
At Tuesday night's BOC meeting, the subject was raised again. I think what Chairman Marcello Banes had to say was spot on. I, like many others, am a pretty big fan of this fella. I think he was a good choice for Newton County. He seems to be a truly free and independent elected official with the best interests of our home county at heart. And like him, I walk around our town a good bit and find myself praying a lot.
I'm of the opinion that the monument should stay. For one thing, it's an beautiful statue. It really is. And the words inscribed on it are also beautiful, and very apropos, in my opinion. On the north side, it talks about the need to furl the flag. How the time had come to move on. But there's also a mention of the "sacred cause" on the east side of the monument that some people have taken issue with. And...I get it. I do.
As the famous quote goes - "those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." This monument is a part of our history. Of course, some would say that history like this needs to be in a museum, or possibly in a cemetery.
Again, I feel as if it is a key part of our history. But more than that, I think it should stay because it can always be a reminder to all that the Civil War did indeed happen. That brother did fight against brother. A reminder that a critical mass of people at one time gave up on the principles that our country was founded on. In addition to remembering those Newton Citizens who gave their lives and those who fought in the War Between the States, this memorial can, and should, always be a remembrance that we have to keep talking. That we always need to always remain civil. And in this day and age, I think that needs to be in the forefront and should very much be in the public forum.
Moreover, I think this monument can also be a reminder that we are, as our Founding Fathers declared in the Constitution, always striving for that More Perfect Union, but that there have been bumps along the way. That we are, as America, who we are, and that we have a shared and intertwined history. That this beautiful and wondrous idea of Freedom and Liberty, though having come from imperfect origins, has always been striven for and expounded upon by many throughout the years, and that this light needs to always be shone and remembered. And that the South - our beloved homeplace - was, in instances then & over the years since, sometimes on the wrong side of Justice, and history.
This is not a monument to a specific war hero, nor is it a celebration of the CSA itself. It is a memorial to American veterans, and a reminder of who we are and where we've been.
It should never be forgotten. It should always be remembered.
That is history.
The monument should stay.