Comprehending how the Civil War can be studied rather than used for controversy

By Leonardo Reyes

America is well-renowned as one of the strongest military powers that the world has ever seen.  Considering that America always finds itself in foreign conflicts and wars.  However, throughout all its wars, the battles that took place on America’s own soil will always be remembered, as it was the most devastating war and it altered America significantly.  The Civil War saw heavy casualties, Americans killing Americans over states’ rights.  America today remembers through history books, reenactments, and most notably, statues.  As these statues allow many Americans to look back and commemorate the past, they also bring about racial issues to African Americans whose ancestors were enslaved by the same people who are celebrated by these statues.

As it may be easy for one to simply say, “let’s just remove these monuments that support the confederacy so it may no longer cause controversy”, every argument must have both sides considered.  These Confederate monuments and statues were erected in order to honor the men who gave their lives for a cause they believed was just.  In that sense, I understand how people in Charlottesville can defend these statues, as these statues are in honor of their ancestors who died in the war.  Furthermore, those same confederate soldiers whose dead bodies riddled battlefields were not given a proper burial, so their families and loved ones were unable to grief like families are able to today.  Faust speaks on further in “This Republic of Suffering”,

“The particular circumstances created by the Civil War often inhibited mourning, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, for many bereaved Americans to move through the stages of grief…Denial and numbness were, in fact, prominent means by which civilians-like soldiers-attempted to cope with war’s losses” (Faust 144-145).

Faust demonstrates how difficult it was for those who lost loved ones due to the war, as they were were unable to properly mourn and were left melancholia.  If the monuments that are seen today can allow people today to honor their ancestors, then that is fair.  

Although it is fine to use the statues and monuments to honor your confederate ancestors, it should be understood that your ancestors were fighting to keep African-Americans enslaved.  Many will argue that the Confederacy was fighting for their states’ rights, and that slavery was not the primary issue regarding the Civil War.  However, in actuality, the Confederacy was fighting for their states’ rights to keep the practice of slavery intact.  So must those who defend the Confederate statues must take in consideration the feelings of disgust and pain that black people feel for their ancestors that were beaten and killed by those same Confederates.  Just as John Oliver said on Last Week Tonight regarding the issue, 

“I honestly get wanting a more comfortable history for you family. But in doing so, you cannot invent a more comfortable history for your country”

It’s great that white southerners would like to show their children Confederate monuments and tell them about their ancestors who fought in the war.  But those same people have to consider the African Americans that have to walk by those monuments.  I honestly believe that these Confederate statues should either be taken down or there should more African American statues of soldiers in the war or slaves who suffered during the war.  If there are statues honoring Confederates which offend African Americans, it is only fair for African Americans to have their own statues to tell their children about.  At its core, these statues should solely be used to honor and remember those who fought in the war, something with educational purpose, and nothing more.

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Here are Confederate statues that are causing controversy and issues in several communities.  These statues are in the process of being removed as many government officials have called to removed many Confederate statues from all over the country.  It is understandable that this happening considering the events that transpired involving a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, where one was killed and many more were injured.  If these monuments which celebrate the Confederacy are causing a lost of life and injuries, than there is without a doubt good reason to remove them.  Photos provide by the New York Times

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