They finally did it, they moved the Confederate Monument to historic Maple Hill Cemetery into a more historically correct context. It now sits amid other memorials to soldiers who fought and died in the terrible conflict that so defined nineteenth-century America. It’s too bad it took so long, but I am glad it finally happened for several reasons that I would like to explain.
Those men who fought and died for The South include two of my Great Grandfathers, and a number of Uncles, and cousins. There are wide swaths of this history about which I am very proud. My relatives were men like Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Issac Criner, and John Hunt. Having pushed back the British, they came out into the western wilderness to seek their fortunes when “The West” was Tennessee. Their lives and hardships are impossible to imagine but are easily visible in Maple Hill by reading the dates on the stones. Their lives were short and difficult. We have come so far, we cannot really understand what they endured so we could live in this place, in relative peace and affluence. I have a deep respect for them and for their accomplishments.
But it is right that the monument was moved away from our County Courthouse. The base of the monument says that it was dedicated to the “Principals on which The Confederacy was founded” and those principals undeniably include the subjugation of Africans. It is true that most Confederates did not own slaves, but they were nonetheless compelled to violence against their new nation by their own separatist, rebel government. A group of men who were intent on preserving a way of life that depended on using, not paying, a group of people as if they were livestock or farm implements. Pointing out that there were other aspects of the conflict besides slavery is deflecting. It was about slavery and these men fought for its continuance.
It is not true that the slaves were happy. It is not true that the monument was to honor Southern Culture. It is not true that moving the monument erases anything. It is not true that everyone in favor of moving the monument is a liberal Democrat. It is not true that no one noticed the monument before.
It IS true that my family moved here before everyone reading this post, the deed says 1803 so let’s see someone beat that. It IS true that the monument is offensive to some people, and they notice it every time. It IS true that leaders recruiting people to Huntsville wish this was not on the Courthouse lawn. It IS true that celebrating a racist, rebel movement in a Federal city is counterproductive. It IS true that Confederate monuments are bad for “SmartCity” brand creation.
So, I am feeling relieved that it’s gone and no one got hurt. I am relieved for Huntsville that we got through this without earning a reputation like Charlottesville or Birmingham. I am relieved that our “protester friends” get to see that their voice does matter. Relieved is not encouraged though. I have read too many comments today for me to feel very encouraged about the environment in which we live. For me, I will just say a prayer of thanksgiving for wisdom and for safety, and for my community to move forward, away from hate, faster.