The recent death of a young woman at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has created much racial tension throughout the country. Unfortunately, racial tension isn’t anything new. Racism has been around forever and will continue long after I am gone. Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, KY recently decided the racial tension in Charlottesville is a sign for the removal of memorials to confederate generals John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan. Gray’s explanation is we shouldn’t commemorate Confederate generals who supported slavery. A movement across America has started to remove all traces of these statues.
I can understand the reasoning for not wanting reminders of the confederacy. However, I don’t think removing these memorials is smart. People are visual. They need reminders from the past.
Although they are only statues, they are significant to society.
They serve as a reminder of a time when Americans ignored the liberties of darker human beings and forced them into fields to work under threats of death. I recently watched an old episode of the Twilight Zone titled Deaths Head Revisited. The episode was about a former Nazi prison guard who returns to Dachau, the site where he once tortured and killed Jewish people under Adolph Hitler’s rule. For anyone unfamiliar with Dachau, it was a Nazi prison camp that exterminated Jewish citizens. Dachau was a death house with unspeakable cruelty.
At the end of the episode, a doctor takes a final look at the closed facility and asks why it still stands. Host Rod Serling gave the perfect explanation:
“All the Dachaus must remain standing. They must remain standing. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it, they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this- the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance- then we become the gravediggers.”
I have seen this episode many times over the years. It’s a classic tale that displays the cruelty and atrocities that people have so easily committed against their fellow man. Although the Civil War statues represent misery and evil, they must remain. Sadly, history has a way of repeating itself when people fail to learn lessons from the past. Politicians and protest groups think they can erase the past by removing old statues. However, removing the statues is only a way to temporarily hide the past.
For the same reasons that Dachau remains, the Civil War statues should remain. It’s a visual that people need to remind them of the past and the atrocities that once happened. Although slavery happened before any of us were born, it still happened and must always be remembered.
I find it difficult to believe that a civilized nation like the United States of America still has racism. People continue to judge others based on skin color. What’s disturbing is our skin is considered our largest organ. So people are discriminating against others because of an organ color.
But if you were to examine our inner organs a little closer, you would find that we have kidneys, a heart and a liver. And it’s a sure bet that none of us can distinguish the liver of an African-American man from an Asian man. The world will be a much better place to live when people start evaluating other people based on their merit and values instead of skin color.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.