I read with interest an op-ed article in the Enquirer-Journal about the Confederate monument that stands at the Union County Courthouse. The article was submitted by Jordan Britton. It states that Britton wants the monument in our Courthouse Square to be taken down. Britton starts his opinion by establishing his Union County credentials.
In response, I would like to establish my Union County credentials. My family also has deep roots in Union County that spread out over 300 years, before there was a Union County. My grandmothers maiden name was Richardson. Her direct descendant, a great-great-great-great grandfather is Edward Richardson, who Richardson Creek was named for. Edward Richardson fought almost continuously in the Revolutionary War. He fought, for the most part, in Smallwood’s Brigade and served under Col. Hambright and Capt. Brinkley in the Battle of Waxhaw, Drake’s Thicket and others. In 1790, he received a grant of 300 acres for his service in that war. Two of his grandsons died in the Mexican War and we have other direct descendants who fought in the War Between the States. My grandfather served in WWI. My uncle served during WWII. I graduated from Monroe High School in 1968 and attended Wingate Jr. College before entering the USAF where I served in VietNam. I hope this is sufficient to establish my credentials in Union County.
Our Confederate monument was erected in 1910 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Britton states that the UDC has three “tenants”: the Confederate fight was heroic, enslaved people were happy, and that slavery was not the root cause of the Civil War. In contrast, Wikipedia states: “The UDC was influential primarily in the early 20th century across the South, where it’s main role was to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the Civil War. Memory and memorials became the main focus of the organization.” The dedication speech was given on July 4, 1910 by NC Attorney General Walter Bickett. AG Bickett was a racist as is obvious if you care to read his biography and his speech. His words were the words of a racist and there is no evidence that his selection of words in any way reflected the ideals of the UDC. Is this cause to remove the monument?
The wholesale removal, defacing or destruction of statues, symbols, etc. from public venues since the murder of George Floyd has done, and will do, nothing to change history simply because history cannot be changed. We can only learn from history. Britton cites examples of monuments in other locales that have been removed. That is irrelevant. A North Carolina law, adopted in 2015 and codified as North Carolina General Statute (G.S.)100 2.o prevents the removal or relocation of objects of remembrance on public property. It is true this law has been violated a number of times in this state. That doesn’t make it right. I have a number of relatives, as do many citizens of Union County, who fought in the War Between the States and there are many, many others who simply made Union County and the south their homes. I can rest assured that my relatives did NOT fight to preserve the institution of slavery. None of my relatives owned slaves and knowing my family’s history, they most likely viewed it as a terrible blight. I’m not going to debate the “reasons” for the War, that would go on for eternity. My position is exactly what I referred to above. History CANNOT be changed, it can only be learned from.
It would seem that the reason many want these monuments removed is so that the War can be forgotten. That won’t happen and is not a valid argument to begin with. No one living today was alive in the 1860’s. We who are the sons and daughters of the South have nothing to apologize for. We have not engaged in the institution of slavery and it’s my opinion that the huge majority of us condemn it in the most ardent manner. In addition, no one has explained what the murder of Mr. Floyd has to do with our monument. Mr. Floyd was not from Monroe. Britton also references the Black Lives Matter movement in his advocacy for removing our monument. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, that movement has morphed from a loose entity that espouses equal rights for all into gangs of thugs, both black and white, who have been instrumental in the destruction of public and private property, rioting, looting and murder. I don’t believe those who came up with the idea of the Black Lives Matter movement had these types of insurrection in mind.
Should our monument be removed so that the War Between the States can be forgotten? Does this mean that monuments to the Jewish people who perished at the hands of Hitler in WWII be removed because they offend some people? Should the monuments to 9/11 be removed because they offend Muslims? Should the monuments to the westward expansion of our nation be removed because they offend some American Indians? Should the headstones on the grave of a Confederate veteran of that war be removed because of his service to the Confederacy? Our monument is just what Wikipedia describes as the reasons the UDC erected the monument to begin with: “to preserve and uphold the memory of the Confederate veterans, especially those husbands, sons, fathers and brothers who died in the Civil War”. It is not a monument to the institution of slavery.
I could go on and on but the fact remains, history is: “a chronological record of significant events often with an explanation of their causes, and/or a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events”. Even though there are those who think that those of us who are the sons and daughters of the South are inherently racist, this is not true. We ARE proud of our heritage. Britton suggests that our heritage is something to be ashamed of and the monument is a “beacon of white supremacy”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The institution of slavery was an evil (in the Biblical sense) act, as evil as one man can engage in against another human being, but to try to connect us with that evil simply because we are Southerners is wrong, and removing our statue will change absolutely nothing