Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. – as a promoter of progressive thinking – gave rise to a military committee that reviewed the inappropriateness of America's warriors whom history has recognized with statues, memorials or naming bases after them to ensure they do not imply insensitivity toward blacks or other minority groups. Considering the numerous changes contemplated by the committee, Warren's initiative will have a major impact upon shamelessly erasing the history linked to our War Between the States.
Unless a federal judge takes the appropriate action, on De. 18 the demolition of the 109-year-old Confederate Reconciliation Memorial located at Arlington National Cemetery will begin.
The word "reconciliation" was included in the memorial as it was the intention of our 25th U.S. president, William McKinley, and his peers who had fought on the side of the Union to demonstrate the post-Civil War healing of war wounds with those who had fought for the Confederacy. The country had suffered an ideological split during that conflict but, like a bad marriage in which the parties separated only to realize later they needed each other and returned to their union, the memorial was commissioned as a testimonial to the reconciliation of North and South.
As has been reported, the destruction of the memorial, "will desecrate the graves of almost 500 Confederate soldiers and family surrounding the memorial in concentric circles who, by 1901 law, are American soldiers entitled to the same respect and dignity as any American soldier who has ever lived." In the mind of Sen. Warren, honoring those who fought for the South is insensitive as they should eternally be condemned for having honored the institution of slavery. This is contrary to the sentiment of McKinley who observed, "Every soldier's grave made during our unfortunate civil war is a tribute to American valor."
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A magnificent sculpture looks over the 500 graves – the work of internationally renowned Jewish artist and Confederate soldier Moses Jacob Ezekiel. It has been praised by art critic Michael Patterson with the words, "No sculptor, as far as known, has ever, in any one memorial told as much history as has Ezekiel in his monument at Arlington." Yet, four days after the destruction begins, it will have been completed – outrageously approved by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Warren and Austin ride their high horses trumpeting slavery as the main focus of the war, but such trumpeting demonstrates a lack of understanding about history and about what caused those on both sides to fight. At war's end 17 senior commanders – nine from the North and eight from the South – gave farewell addresses to those who had served under them. Those addresses were assembled in "The Last Words" – a book authored by historian Michael R. Bradley – a work that clearly destroys slavery as the "single cause myth." While the moral issue of slavery has long been given as a common explanation for why the American Civil War was fought, it was the economics of slavery, along with political control of that system and states' rights, that were mainly responsible.
With the book above, Bradley had sought to prevent what Warren is now doing in conducting academia's "cultural cleansing" of our history.
In her own failure to grasp our history, Warren believes anyone who fought for the Confederacy during that conflict cannot be so recognized. She condemns Southerners for committing all blacks to a life of slavery, although most did not. While the extent of slave ownership in the South in 1860 is debated, the highest percentage cited is 30.8%.
This suggests approximately one-third of white Southerners were committed to slavery, but it also suggests two-thirds were not. Yet, as per Warren's liberal thinking, the South's minority of slave owners taints the entire Confederacy of 11 states, and therefore, anyone who fought under its flag cannot be memorialized today.
What is interesting about Warren's approach here is that when the Civil War erupted, of the 34 states that were part of the Union, a whopping 15 – in other words 44% – were still slave states. If Warren rationalizes that because 30.8% of Southerners were slave owners, she condemns all those serving in the Confederacy to the dustbin of history by removing their names from memorials and bases, why do not members on the Union side – 44% of which was comprised of slave states – suffer a similar condemnation?
It was only by virtue of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation< a href="https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation">Proclamation that, as of Jan. 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the rebellious states of the Confederacy "shall be … forever free." But it failed to extend freedom to the four border states of the Union – Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri – where slavery remained legal.
It was only by adoption of the 13th Amendment on Dec. 18, 1865, that all slavery was abolished in the U.S. Interestingly, the first state to approve the U.S. Constitution in 1787 – Delaware, which remained loyal to the Union, became the last state, in 1901, to ratify the 13th Amendment. Yet Warren harbors no animosity toward the sons of the North's border states for having supported slavery during the Civil War.
Warren will never understand the bond of respect, despite the ideological differences, that existed between North and South. The words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought for the North, given in a Memorial Day speech in 1884 convey that bond.
Holmes said he and his fellow Union soldiers were driven during the Civil War by a belief their cause was a just and noble one. "But," he explained, "we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred convictions that were the opposite of ours – and we respected them as every man with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief. … You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible … without getting at last something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south – each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other. As it was then, it is now. The soldiers of our war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier's death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by his side."
The Civil War represented a very divisive time in our history. As Holmes made clear, we cannot dismiss them just because the future America that they envisioned differed from what the North envisioned. Both sides fought and died for what they believed in, with the ultimate result being the abolishment of slavery – an action that went on to encourage other countries to abolish it too. Erasing such history just denies future generations of Americans the opportunity to learn our mistakes in hopes of not repeating them.
The mistakes we made leading to the Civil War led to the combined deaths of over 618,000. That number equals the total losses combined in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. That is a high price to have paid only to have Warren erase from history what should have been learned from it.
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