“We shouldn’t erase history.”
I’ve heard this multiple times – on the news, from friends on Facebook, in person – when people talk about Confederate monuments.
As someone with a master’s degree in church history, I absolutely agree with not erasing it.
I recently travelled to Denton for a work conference, and during my spare time made a trip downtown to check out the beautiful Denton County Courthouse. On one side of the courthouse square stands a large arch topped by a soldier gripping a rifle. On the arch itself reads, “Our Confederate Soldiers.”
To enter the courthouse from that side (without stepping on the grass), you must pass under this archway. On either side are the dates of the Civil War – 1861 on the left, 1865 on the right – and a pair of inscriptions.
On the left reads: “Erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of our Confederate soldiers, who in heroic self-sacrifice and devoted loyalty, give their manhood and their lives to the South in her hour of need.”
And on the right, under an all-caps “In Memoriam,” the following sentence in quotation marks: “Their names graved on memorial columns are a song heard far in the future, and their examples reach a hand through all the years to meet and kindle generous purpose and mold it into acts as pure as theirs.”
A quick Google search tells me the quote is slightly altered from a passage in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1885 poem “Tiresias.”
So let’s talk about history. Because this arch contains precious little of it. There was indeed a Confederate States of America with soldiers who fought for it. The war in which they fought did in fact begin in 1861 and end in 1865.
Thus ends the historical statements made by the monument.
But there’s a lot of history that seems not to have made it on to this memorial; what they were fighting for, beyond the South’s “hour of need,” is a glaring omission.