In a previous post I made, I tried to tackle the question of “what Confederate Monuments really are, and why should they be removed?” I wrote about that, while some of the monuments were erected with the intention of commemorating the fallen soldiers or the loss of the war, the vast majority of them were erected to fear monger and act as symbols of White Supremacy, and their use in modern times solidifies that fact for all confederate monuments. I also wrote about how, in the end, it is up to the local municipality and its community to choose whether or not to remove a monument in their area, not necessarily the state or federal governments.
In contrast to my first post, I found this article (which I annotated for ease), which showed me that there is another grouping of Confederate memorials I previously neglected; the graves of the fallen, and the battlefields where they fell. The article begins similarly to how the previous one went, discussing the tragedy of the Charlottesville Rally in 2017, and how the President asked if presidents and other, non-Confederate monuments will be defaced and removed, which has been shown to be true. Here, the President asks where the line should be drawn as to where the removals must stop, and the author retorts with the graves and battlefields, which illustrate the real history of this nation, unlike the average Confederate monument erected in a town center.
The author then goes in-depth on the history of Arlington National Cemetery, the graveyard for many of America’s war dead since the civil war. “Today, among the 400,000 graves at Arlington are those of approximately 500 Confederate soldiers, as well as a memorial to them.” These 500 graves, erected in circles so that no more could be added in their ranks, were a center of controversy all the way back to its creation in 1898 by President McKinley for Southern support for a treaty. Funnily enough, one of the groups who protested it most was the Daughters of the Confederacy, who wanted full control of Confederate memorialization in their effort for the abhorrent lies of the Lost Cause myth.
The author also writes on Civil War battlefields, since they are effectively graveyards of both Union and Confederate troops, and are populated by memorials of both sides of the conflict. He argues that, like the graves of Arlington, these hallowed grounds should be left alone not just because they portray the real history of the Civil War, but to leave the dead in peace, no matter which side they fell and died for. He concludes this by saying that leaving these battlefields and graves along, while removing the false history that has plagued our nation for over a century now is the only way we may be able to move forward.
This article informs my initial inquiry that all Confederate monuments should be removed, in a newfound sense of morality and reverence, was ignorant of the monuments that illustrate our nation’s correct history. We most certainly must keep up the fight against the false narrative painted by generations of white supremacy and fear in our city centers and communal areas. However, we must also keep the real, bloody, and tragic history of our country alive as a memoriam for the dead, and a reminder of what bitter hatred and bigotry may cause, as a warning for the future generations of these United States, so that we may fix the damages we still face and never repeat the sins of our fathers.