Editor, the Advocate:
The Confederate soldier has stood silent watch over De Leon Plaza for more than 100 years. Most citizens have given him little thought, but suddenly, he is the focus of attention. It is time to reconsider the meaning of a monument to the Confederacy on the Main Street of Victoria.
UHV professors Laura Mammina and Joseph Locke have pointed out the blatant racism in the “Declaration and Causes” for Texas’ secession from the Union. They also reminded us that racism was still alive when the monument was dedicated in 1912. The Black Lives Matter movement reminds us that racism is not a thing of the past. The history of the monument would seem to call for its immediate removal and relegation to a museum or other situation where it could be viewed in its historical context.
Perhaps there is a better solution. Abraham Lincoln declared that our founding fathers created a “new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He was speaking on the battlefield of “a great Civil War, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived…can long endure.”
The idea of a nation dedicated to the equality of all men was radical at the time. The proposition of equality carried within itself the seeds of conflict. Not everyone agreed that all persons were created equal.
Lincoln declared his hope that, from the terrible struggle, the nation should have a “new birth of freedom.” Freedom is always struggling to be reborn. As our nation has grown, we have experienced new births of freedom for slaves, women, Hispanics, gays, and other marginalized groups, but much still remains to be done.
So here is a suggestion for the Confederate soldier: Let him stand as a reminder that the war in which he fought was the birth pang of a new freedom. Let him remind us that freedom is always struggling to be reborn. Let him challenge us to join the fight, so that we might, as Dr. King put it, live out the meaning of our creed, that all men are created equal.
Let’s have a big celebration to rededicate the monument. Let’s engage the best speakers to explain the meaning of freedom, and call upon each one of us to take up the struggle. Let’s apologize for slavery, repent of our national sin of racism, and resolve to work for reconciliation.
Joseph Crisp, Victoria