Growing up in Virginia, I attended an elementary school named after the Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. Had my school not been named after him, I would certainly not have remembered his place in Civil War History. This leaves me to question, what do we really feel we are gaining by memorializing and edifying civil war generals; men who declared and perpetuated war against The United States of America? Isn’t that considered treason? Stuart was an officer in the U.S. Army before he defected and became a Confederate General.
We can teach history to students without erecting statues nor naming roads and schools after civil war generals. The truth is that we build statues in memory of lives lost or those who we see as being triumphant.
Who in the U.S. would be able to successfully petition to have a public statue or monument built for the men who flew planes into the Pentagon or The World Trade Center Towers? How is keeping civil war generals any different, really?
My mind is filled with the many images of U.S. Troops tearing down the statues of Hussein after capturing Baghdad. When Baghdad fell, it was only natural that Hussein’s statues did also.
So what are we saying when we keep these civil war statues in place? Personally, I feel it’s a testament to the pervasiveness of the roots of racism to continue to keep these statues in place. Images speak loudly to what we value.