05 September 2015

The Civil War Trust Steps Up

Update: Shortly after this post went up, Kevin Levin posted his opinion on the CWT petition discussed below: "I will not be signing it." Wow. I guess it's time to double down. Kevin offers an explanation and he is, if nothing else, consistent in his recent postings about this topic. But his objections are problematic for a number of reasons - but reasons which are predictable. Sifting through all that Levin writes can, in my opinion, be boiled down to one primary conclusion: Some monuments should be "evilized" and, therefore, don't deserve protection. A morality play which has little to do with history or the veterans who paid for many of these monuments; as well as being representative of their duty, as they understood it, in their times. A textbook example of presentism on full display. If you can come to some other conclusion, I'm all ears. 

I'll won't address this here in any further detail as much of Levin's (and others) perspective will be covered in an upcoming post: The Problem With "Memory Studies."

End of update.

How will the activist historians respond? I must ask, since some of them have suggested that vandalism against these monuments was somehow justified and had some value for educational purposes. God Almighty. The CWT disagrees:
Recognizing this debt, generations of Americans up to this day have built memorials honoring those who served in the military and have fallen in battle. These monuments are silent sentinels recognizing the soldiers who crossed the frozen Delaware River with Washington, fought amid the boulder-strewn hillsides of Gettysburg, served in the trenches of Vicksburg and Petersburg, landed on the beaches of Normandy and the islands of the Pacific, and most recently served in the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is important to remember that many of these memorials are historic in their own right some more than 200 years old. In countless instances, these monuments were erected by the veterans themselves, who wanted to remember their leaders, their units and their fallen comrades. Many of these memorials were also paid for not with public money but through small dollar donations made by survivors and local citizens, determined to give of their limited means to honor the military. . . .

These unique and fragile resources, which are invaluable to remembering the sacrifices of young soldiers who defended freedom both here and abroad, must not be discarded in the passions of the moment. Future generations will never forgive us for failing to protect these monuments.
I'm glad they've spoken out in the form on an online petition. As I commented to another blogger, it's about time. My only question is, what took them so long? Frankly, I think the response should have come sooner and more forcefully. But I'm grateful, nonetheless.


jessie sanford said...

Thanks for the link, signed.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

You're welcome. Thanks for signing. It's quite reasonable. Only the most partisan activists would object to anything so benign.

Brian Lee said...

I've signed as well, and also tweeted a link to your blog post. I don't have very many followers, but it can't hurt.

Regarding your comment that "only the most partisan activists would object to anything so benign," that is indeed true, but sadly there are A LOT of extreme partisans, and they are capable of making an enormous amount of noise.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Brian. I've also shared the CWT link on a number of history and Civil War related websites. Objecting to even this reasonable effort to protect these monuments tells us MUCH about these activists. It's quite amazing.