Parents play a myriad of roles while nurturing their children to adulthood. One of those roles is official “warner:” Don’t touch the stove! It’s hot; you’ll be burned! Family historian is another role. Remember when we spent the evening at the hospital because you touched the stove and burned your hand? Assuring that children learn responsible behavior via historical reference is a part of growing up. So the history should not be kept from them.
Such is the case with the Confederate monument in Forest Park and Confederate memorabilia elsewhere. When considering the many related issues, one should first remember that the Confederate government was a body of seditionists and those who supported that government were treasonous. The resulting war is part of American history, like it or not. And one of the fundamental issues of the Civil War was that of slavery. Southern Confederates wanted to maintain slavery, and the Northern Unionists didn’t. So it is no surprise that African-Americans find Confederate monuments offensive.
That said, it would be doing a great historical disservice to America to destroy or sequester the Confederate monument (or others) that is the focus of the current controversy in St. Louis. The monument would certainly be an appropriate piece to put on display at the History Museum. It’s a part of American history — Missouri history as well. So, like the parent reminding the child about unsafe behavior, historians should remind society that our country’s division in the past led to a self-destructive war.
Michael K. Broughton, Green Park, Missouri
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