To the editor,
I truly appreciate the Rev. Chris Williamson’s opinion piece in last week’s Herald. It was interesting to learn more of the thinking process that he and other leaders behind the Fuller Story Initiative went through to tell a broader story about Franklin during the Civil War.
Personally, I think their model is an ingenious solution that could be implemented wherever activists are calling for statues and plaques to be torn down. To me, erasing history is never a solution.
I have a great-great-grandfather and other family members who fought for the Union, but I was born in the South and raised in Knoxville. So, I’m not from Franklin and, therefore, don’t necessarily have a dog in this hunt here locally.
My concern, though, is with history and how we’re readily destroying it at the knee-jerk whim of anyone who doesn’t like it. I bet a lot of history teachers will agree with me.
Using the current politically correct logic, I don’t like that Martin Luther King was assassinated. I don’t like that the country went through a bloody, costly civil war that tore families apart, or that my parents and grandparents had to suffer through the Depression. The Vietnam War, Prohibition and Jim Crow laws all offend me. So, do I need to begin a movement to erase their various symbols? No. They’re history. They’re lessons for the future. We allow them to stand and use them to teach our children about the events they represent so we never have to experience them again.
Besides, once you start tearing them down, where does it stop?
Regarding the Williamson County seal, I’ve heard several suggestions that perhaps a Union flag or the American flag could be added to that quadrant of the seal to better represent all sides of the argument. That makes sense to me. That doesn’t destroy our history. And concerning “Chip,” I believe the Fuller Story has already addressed the missing information that surrounds him and added more balance to the history of Franklin. Five plaques and a soon-to-be-added statue of a former slave who served in the Federal Army now enhance our history even further.
And we didn’t lower ourselves to riots and protests to get it done. Kudos to Williamson and his colleagues for what they did in proactively addressing this.
Here’s a suggestion. If people want to erase the history of Williamson Country, what if they work with the school system to instead establish a special fund to which people could donate that would build an innovative history program — information, research, presentations, events, tours, etc. — showcasing these historical episodes that many are uncomfortable about?
As we move forward, my request is that we not tear down history. Rather, we build it up and tell more of its incredible story. Besides, everyone wins if we walk down that path.