Greetings Cosmic Americans!
A while back, a Twitter friend @ZebulonPike1813 sent me a note expressing his concern over the placement of former Rebels in the National Statuary Hall and asked for my thoughts. Well - it has been a long time coming but here you go.
It seems that we have a few Rebel traitors on display. Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Joseph Wheeler all turned their backs on the United States and served the Confederacy and now they represent their states in the National Statuary Hall Collection. I am not surprised - there are those who claim that they have no place in this hall of honor. And you know what....maybe these people are right.
But here is where things get a little more complex. The reasons why these individuals are represented at a national shrine tell us quite a bit about the country's history. Davis, Lee, Wheeler (and other Rebs such as Wade Hampton) were all donated in the 1920s and 1930s - decades emblematic in some ways for a national commitment to reconciliation and unity. Now this doesn't mean the nation had forgotten the issues of the war years as some scholars might suggest, but at least a lot of state and national leaders wanted to project a spirit of harmony.
So I say leave them there - but understand how they got there. I am not in favor of removing any statue or monument depicting Confederates or their cause - simply because we can learn from them. The same goes for the naming of US military installations such as Forts Bragg and Hood - I do not believe that any new forts will be named for Rebels...but the ones that were came into being for a very specific reason: to promote national unity...for better or worse.
My suggestion is to look deeper into the meaning behind the statues instead of removing them - the timing of their placement and the event itself. Surely some folks had plenty to say when these monuments were installed.
I am quite sure that there will be some disagreement here and trust me...I am not in favor of promoting the celebration of Rebels who fought to preserve slavery. I am very concerned, however, in understanding why Americans commemorate the way they do...I seek the intentions - the actions - and the reactions...and then write it all down. Maybe I can get to the bottom of this whole reconciliation thing one of these days...stay tuned. I've got a book coming out on the subject.