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Sunday, May 19, 2024 - 09:21 PM


First Published in 1994


Americans are horrified when they see televised images of radical Muslims destroying ancient Christian works of art and structures in Iraq and other far-away countries. At the same time, elected officials in this country are turning their backs and some are leading in the desecration and destruction of historic symbols and monuments as part of politically motivated mass hysteria known as Confederaphobia.

Recently Kenneth Neill of Unionville, Tennessee, expressed the feelings of many native Southerners in a letter to a national magazine.

“As I’ve watched the news recently since the tragedy in Charleston, the reaction and over-reaction by so many leave me wondering if this is what going insane feels like. We’re hearing ignorant, misinformed statements and downright lies concerning not only the battle flag but other symbols of our heritage as well.

“We know the truth about why the war was fought. We understand what these symbols mean and what they don’t. We’re currently experiencing the worst Confederaphobia since Reconstruction. If we let them take our symbols and our heritage away a second time, we may never get them back.”

Very few Americans know any factual history about the decade following the “Civil War” called Reconstruction. It was a period when Radical Republican opportunists from the North and former slaves ruled over Southerners at the point of federal bayonets. Reconstruction was worse than the war, but it failed. Democrats chased the Republicans out, created a solid Democrat South and imposed a century of “Jim Crow” laws on the former slaves in retaliation for the abuses suffered by the White citizens during Reconstruction. Democrat abuses were unjust and misdirected but factual history just the same.

As Black and White Southerners have worked together for half a century to overcome the divisions created by both Reconstruction and Jim Crow Laws, there are those who are terrified by the thought of Southerners of all races becoming united as an economic and political force. Those who gain power and financial gain from promoting division and strife among races will exploit every opportunity to retain their economic and political power.

I read recently that there are three parts to history. There is the version written by historians who while attempting to be objective allow personal biases to creep in. There are the eye witness accounts that tend to accurately describe specific parts of the historical facts. Then there are the myths that are created to promote a point of view regarding a historical event.

It should be noted that the United States Government officially recognizes the status of Confederate veterans as equivalent to that of United States veterans in the issuance of pensions, burial sites, gravestones, recognition on national memorials, seniority in rank, and other benefits and honors. Legislation in 1958 confirmed the previous decisions and guaranteed full recognition of Confederate States of America veterans as equivalent in every respect to USA veterans and fully entitled to the same benefits and honors.

There is honor and respect among combat veterans, even those who were on opposite sides. There has been mutual respect between adversaries in the American “Civil War” since the end of hostilities.

The National Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War recently publicly reaffirmed the long-held position of the SUVCW in supporting the public use and display of Confederate flags and symbols, and particularly the Confederate Battle Flag in its various forms. This is a token of respect for military valor and a continuation of the honor and regard which their ancestors had for their adversaries during the war and as confirmed by sincere reconciliations and joint reunions held for many years while the veterans themselves were still alive.

Elected officials who support banning display or destruction of historical symbols of any persuasion do not deserve to continue holding office.