To the editor,
I understand how easy and tempting it is to judge past civilizations through a modern lens. Without the proper context, one’s judgement will be forever clouded.
Unfortunate and abhorrent as it may be, slavery was a way of life in the mid-1800s in the American South. It was the engine that drove manufacturing and it was the engine that generated fabulous wealth for the elite and the political ruling class. It was these elitists that were threatened by the abolition of slavery. It was these elitists that seceded from the Union. It was not the average Southern American working their farm trying to get by.
A strong allegiance to one's state was much more common during that time than it is today. These states were less than 100 years removed from being independent colonies. Many of those colonies were hesitant to even join a Union after an eight-year war with England. My point is that the citizens had a strong sense of independence; it was part of their "DNA," if you will.
When the Southern states seceded and war was on their doorstep, many had a decision to make: do I fight *against* my family, friends and my home, or do I fight *for* my family and friends? That was really the only choice that most had. They had no choice in the matter of secession. It was the elite and the political ruling class that had decided that for them.
Do I support the celebration of the crooked, wealthy political leaders who so earnestly wanted a civil war? Absolutely not. However, the Confederate troops on the ground were not the traitors that so many flippantly call them. They were doing the job assigned to them by their superiors.
Supporting the protection of our Confederate monument honoring those fallen in battle is not an endorsement of the Confederacy, racism or slavery. It's remembering that fellow Americans and ancestors died and suffered terrible hardship for a terrible cause mislabeled as a "glorious cause" by those for whom it would benefit. Maybe if we remember that, we won't let it happen again.