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Letter: Monuments should stand as part of the nation’s history

Monuments should stand as part of the nation’s history

I have the pleasure of presiding over a wonderful and congenial group of people who enjoy the history and study of the Civil War. We have speakers who come from far and wide, and sometimes quite locally. They can be well-published, or even licensed tour guides at Gettysburg or Fredericksburg or Antietam.

But one recent evening at the Gateway Building in Hamburg was a bit different. Our speaker, Chris Mackowski, professor of journalism at St. Bonaventure University, agreed to lead a very interesting “discussion” on Confederate monuments. Defacing, tearing them down, moving them. What has become of our history? All of us cringe at what is happening, so we all were eager to partake.

However, the simple pleasure of stopping by a monument, learning what it stands for – which are the battles – is no longer “simple.” These works of art do not represent an individual’s past farming practices, or glorify a “successful” plantation. They acknowledge that soldier’s contribution to the Civil War. This is where we as a nation have lost a grip. Yes, it is complicated, as Mackowski so artfully stressed. But the 50 or so people in attendance likewise contributed to a very healthy recognition of today’s controversy.

It is so very unfortunate that we have today in our society those who have chosen to take up these hallowed depictions of our past as a way of promoting a hatred and division amongst us. As we strive and truly struggle to overcome the scourge of a past time in our history starting with the efforts of the Great Emancipator himself, we find ourselves having to deal with white supremacists trying to hijack our heritage.

Let the monuments stand … for the reasons they were put there.

Carl Modica


Buffalo Civil War Round Table

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