Monday, July 17, 2017

Remembering The Past: For local residents, Confederate monuments provide historic reminder

MARTINSVILLE–How do you respect history, while also honoring the feelings of local residents? That’s a question many cities and counties here in Virginia, as well as across the country, are struggling with, when it comes to Confederate monuments. There are monuments to the Confederacy in Martinsville, but as far as local residents both black and white are concerned, there’s no movement to see them torn down.
“It’s really interesting, because we celebrate the Boston Tea Party while tearing down the Confederate rebellion,” said Martinsville Vice Mayor Chad Martin, who is African-American. “
The issue becomes how do you respect history while also respecting the United States, as opposed to some Southern states that wanted to break away.”
He said he has gone to the General Assembly building several times, but his last visit, Martin was able to tour the capital in a tourist capacity instead of an advocate. He really got a chance to read and hear the rich history of how important Virginia was, he said,
“While I love learning about history, I am not a fan of honoring people who upheld the principles of enslaving any human being,” Martin said. “If we are going to be honest about history, we must be true to all of it and not the glorified pieces that take away morality and the responsibility of treating people with humanity.”
Martin said he feels Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War and reluctant secessionist, answered the dilemma best in his 1881 apologia (a written defense of something one believes in strongly) “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government”. In it, Davis said “my pride is that that flag shall not set between contending brothers; and that, when it shall no longer be the common flag of the country, it shall be folded up and laid away like a vesture no longer used.”
The issue was raised during the recent primary races, especially the one for lieutenant governor. Democratic candidate Susan Platt called for the commonwealth to take down Confederate monuments on public property and rename Confederate-themed highways and public buildings.

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