Memorials are created and displayed for a lot of reasons. They represent something notable that future generations need not forget.
To be more personal, a gravestone is a memorial. The memorial itself is politically neutral. What it represents however can be very emotional both good and bad to different persons.
In my own family history there have been both good and bad actors. Again, the gravestone itself is neutral in purpose. But, lets suppose I want to whitewash my family history so as to eliminate the memory of those who were bad actors. I would remove their gravestones and by doing so, rewrite our visual family history to make us look good in the eyes of other people in subsequent generations which would be a lie.
If I removed an offender's gravestone to whitewash our history I could then deny any wrongdoing because their history is removed from public view.
Think about that for a while.
In the public sector of late (2020) it has been a popular trend of agitiators to forcefully remove memorials of those who they considered oppressive and wrong. While their view is justified in many cases, in my view they act adversely to their detriment.
Let me explain.
If you remove confederate memorials from the public view then those who want to deny historic human slavery existed gain traction, no differently than those who want to deny the Holocaust of the Jews, the slaughter of Armenians or the starvation of millions of Russian prisoners under German captivity.
For me personally, a confederate war memorial is a reminder of how strongly a society can be wrong about the half-baked implementation of the Constitution and resulting fuctional public policy. The memorial reminds me of how I need to remind myself that all men are created equal and shall live and be treated with equal opportunity.
More than 3/4 of a million US citizens died in the US Civil War from 1861-1865 to settle the question of slavery and state's rights more than 155 years ago. Those who captured, trafficed and sold human slaves were rich greedy men and women of all races who became more rich on the oppression of other humans.
The practice of slave capture, markets, transportation and ownership had to stop. From Jefferson's time up until the civil war began there was constant effort to end slavery by diplomacy but that did not work. Greed was too strong and blood was too cheap.
At least the civil war happened long ago. The bloodshed today would simply be more horrific. It was a rich greedy persons's war fought by the poor person on all fronts. In my own family history, either written or oral history there is no recalled or written evidence of slave ownership.
But that did not mean that it did not actually happen.
The burning and destruction of courthouse records (a frequent battle tactic of the Union Army) erased those records from future history.
By destroying a record or memorial, one cannot prove or relive guilt or innocence. Some will try identity politics in absence of any proof to propose any history they chose to demonize others.
I am white as rice and blonde/blue-eyed on top of that. My parents' genetics decided that, not you or me.
For the record, I am also 1/16 Cherokee Indian. My mother says my ancestoral great great grandmother was given the anglicized name "Sarah" in the Dawes Registry. Our oral family history says she was a survivor of the Trail of Tears march ordered by the President of the time, Andrew Jackson.
I have no reason to tear down Andrew Jackson's statue. To the contrary, it reminds me of how much of a mean bastard he really was and that bad public policy should not be repeated.
The corporate name "Aerofeather Aviation Inc" was created by me to honor the memory of my Cherokee ancestor Sarah. While she managed to survive a 900 mile forced march from western North Carolina to Oklahoma she would not live long enough or perhaps even imagine how her beautiful family would later thrive and prosper. Perhaps from God's heaven, yes.
My mother Frances Eleanor (1/8 Cherokee) and her mother Cassie Cathleen (1/4 Cherokee) are said to be beautiful (Anglo-Cherokee) women.
I have the memory and pictures to prove it. My mother (Frances) is 86 years of age and is still a beautiful woman.
In May 2020 I flew the Piper-201 alone on a business route over eastern Oklahoma (Wilburton) in the area where Sarah was put on a reservation. I thought of her presence. In her time if she could have looked up and saw me then I think she might have felt that despite her immense suffering by state-sponsored forced relocation and the resulting genocide that she might think things turned out ok after all for her subsequent decendants.
My son Tom flies the CRJ-200, -700, -900 and the ERJ-175 series passenger jets over the same area on occasion. Perhaps the shadow of his contrails provide a small temporary shade to her unmarked and largely forgotten grave on a hot Oklahoma day.
Only Sarah would know.
Pehaps she can be proud to know her lineage did not die out.
I will ask her in the next life.
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