Memorial Day 2024 and Those Monuments

The only time I lobbied the General Assembly of Virginia, I spoke against the dictatorial destruction of Confederate monuments when the Democrats took control in 2020.  I advocated, as well, for an amendment to require offering the monuments to preservation groups.  It failed.  My words from then still ring true to my ears this Memorial Day. 

The short statement given.  There’s no monument to my great-grandmother who was made deaf in one ear for life as a result of a war crime by a federal soldier who discharged his pistol next to her ear when she was 8 years old.  There’s no memorial to the deaths by starvation to the families of the Shenandoah Valley after their crops and buildings were burned.  There are over two thousand places across Virginia where the Confederate Battle Flag flew in combat.  Millions of Virginians are descended from the soldiers who fought there and whose monuments will be destroyed.  There is no justice if there is no peace for all.

If desired, build more monuments with different narratives.  Don’t revise history by destroying historical monuments.

The long statement given.  I’m speaking on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Frankly, I’m speaking for myself as a Virginian as well.

American history has been my passion since I was a child in Arlington.  It was enhanced by the oral history my grandfather Atticus gave me when we toured the battlefields where his grandfather fought.  Grandfather Holland was a Confederate soldier from a devout Methodist family who believed slavery was a sin against God.  When we visited the Fredericksburg battlefield, Atticus told me about Sergeant Kirkland from Grandfather Holland’s regiment gathering canteens and jumping over the stone wall at Marye’s Heights to give aid to the wounded and dying Yankees.  Both sides cheered Sergeant Kirkland.

Years after our visit, a monument was built showing Kirkland giving mercy to his enemies.  That monument to a Confederate soldier isn’t about slavery, racism, White Supremacy, or a Lost Cause. 

That Confederate monument, like the big one in Arlington Cemetery (shamefully desecrated in 2024!), is about American veterans and their courage, devotion to duty, and sacrifice in a terrible war.  So it is with the other Confederate monuments across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The same, identical monuments were sold north and south, yet only the Confederate ones must be removed.

Under the U.S. Code all Confederate veterans are American veterans.  It’s federal law.  Changing the Code of Virginia to allow cities and counties to remove monuments and memorials to any American veteran opens the can of worms to destroy all the other monuments and memorials.  Changing the law makes historical and artistic artifacts subject to the political passions of a moment and persuasiveness of a political minority in any single locality.

Furthermore, culturally cleansing Confederate monuments is less a balm to people who need a safe space from silent memorials than it is opening a wound to millions of Virginians who honor their ancestors.  Pulling all things historically Confederate and Southern from the public square is an invitation for private citizens to build visible reminders of their heritage everywhere they can – and with whatever narrative they choose.  

    1. My ancestor John Bowden served in a Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line.His brother, Jesse, died serving in Philadelphia.  He named his son, my GGG-Grandfather, Jesse after his brother. 

My ancestor Daniel W. Holland served in a South Carolina Regiment in Longstreet’s Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia.  His brother, Robert, was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines.  He named his daughter, my Great-Grandmother, “Robert” – not “Roberta” – for his brother.

My GG-Grandfather League was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.

More brothers and cousins of my direct ancestors died during that War of Northern Aggression.

Our People served when called in every conflict since then.  My father and I were professional U.S. Army officers.  We are fortunate to only have deaths in the Revolution and The Recent Unpleasantness.

Each generation of our People can name fellow Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice as American veterans.  I know my share.  My grown children know theirs.

I honor the sacrifice of our American dead.  I hate the folly of politicians who didn’t value their lives enough to honor them by winning victories.

When America’s October 7th comes, and it is coming bigger than Israel’s, many more heroes and innocents will perish.  The elected politicians of both political parties who funded the illegal alien invasion should be held accountable.  For once. 

After we destroy our enemies, we will remember our losses on future Memorial Days. 

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