Letter to the Editor: Time to remember the war honestly


On Monday, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation issued a statement that closed: “As an organization established to protect and promote our nation’s Civil War history, we do not support the recent removal of Civil War-related monuments across the nation…But there is no place in this discussion for the KKK and their fearmongering.  And no place for anyone else who wants to spread hate and promote division.”

I am glad to see the foundation rejecting the support of the KKK. But the foundation is still partners with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, which characterizes the War of the Rebellion as follows: “The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.”

This is bad history, and a slap in the face to the descendants of the enslaved. The vice president of the so-called Confederacy said in 1861, “African slavery … was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

I strongly support the preservation of battlefields – as well as of slave cemeteries, women’s colleges, sites of child labor, and other signs of our history. But monuments erected long after the war solely for white supremacist propaganda do not teach us the history of the Civil War.

When we honor the war of 1861-1865, we can follow the simple rules of naming and understanding that were in place during and after the war.

The United States of America’s Army, Navy and Marines defeated an armed rebellion, calling itself the Confederate States of America, which was formed to protect the wealth in human property of the South. That rebellion was defeated, in large measure, because of the non-cooperation of the enslaved, and in particular, because of the 180,000 African-Americans who formed the U.S. Colored Troops.

That’s what happened. That’s what the battlefields commemorate – as well as the undeniable fact that every war features bravery and ingenuity on both sides, and that each soldier has a slightly different understanding of why they are fighting. More than a century later, it’s time to remember the war honestly.

Larry L Yates, Winchester