R.E.A.L. respects the human rights, and the right to distinct cultural views of our fellow human beings in every nation, which must include the United States of America. But in the United States of America, the nation fought a Civil War which began over 156 years ago, in the 19th century over the issue of slavery. That Civil War ended in May 9, 1865, 152 years ago. There were terrible loss of lives on both sides of the nation, and there were those that both sides considered military heroes by both sides of the nation. But 150+ years later, it is past time for the nation to unite and to move past that division. Americans made this decision about the future and identity of the nation.
The history of that 19th century Civil War is not and will not be lost. There will be and continue to be many markers, historical plaques, and remembrance of the struggle, losses, and sacrifices of that war.
But the only remembrance we truly need are the graves of those who died in this struggle. These graves should serve as a grim reminder of the cost of allowing division in basic human rights values to tear the cohesion of America’s national fabric. From any part of the nation, North or South, Union or Confederate, those who gave their lives should be sufficient monument and reminder to all Americans as to the cost of such division and civil war in these United States. Those who respect and honor such Americans should not let their sacrifices go in vain, by failing to move on past a war they gave their lives over.
620,000 American soldiers were killed in the 19th century U.S. Civil War.
Weren’t their deaths enough? Weren’t the blood-soaked fields of their battles across the nation enough?
Aren’t their many, many grave stones sufficient monuments and reminders of the cost of such division of national values and national cohesion?
There is much debate over statues of historical Confederate figures. There is frustration and anxiety among those who find such Confederate statues offensive, and those who view that attacks on Confederate statues are an attack on history.
But there is a difference between honoring a handful of Confederate leaders and the over 721 monuments and memorials of the Confederacy that remain dedicated across the United States still in the 21st century. Most of these were created in the early 20th century to provide a positive reminder of the period during the Confederate States of America. But we lost 620,000 Americans over this division. Surely it is past time to heal. Their sacrifices of these American soldiers lives to decide this matter in the 19th century should not be in vain.
Among the over 721 monuments and memorials dedicated to remembering the Confederacy in: Alabama (48), Arizona (2), Arkansas (36), Delaware (1), Florida (25), Georgia (90), Illinois (2), Iowa (3), Indiana (2), Kansas (2), Kentucky (41), Louisiana (37), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Mississippi (48), Missouri (14), Montana (1), North Carolina (90), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (6), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (50), Tennessee (43), Texas (66), Virginia (96), Washington, D.C. (1), West Virginia (9). These 721 monuments and memorials are part of over 1,500 public spaces dedicated to figures or remembrance of the Confederacy.
For context, there are approximately 60 monuments and memorials dedicated to remember the Union soldiers in America. (For both the Confederate and Union soldiers, these count exclude the Gettysburg, PA historical park, which remembers both sides of the Civil War and those who died).
In the interests of national healing in the 21st century, it is reasonable to ask if it is really necessary to have over 700 monuments and memorials to those who fought in the Confederate States of America, 150+ years after the end of the U.S. Civil War. With over 1,500 public spaces remembering those in the Confederacy, surely the historical memory of the struggle and tragedy of the deep national division of this nation will not be forgotten, if there were not so many Confederate monuments. Surely the sacrifices of 620,000 Americans was enough. The historical memory of the tragic sacrifices and deaths of so many will not be simply washed away like a summer shore at high tide. America will not, and can not help but to remember the 19th century U.S. Civil War.
R.E.A.L. has stood and urged for such an end to such division at the monument to Robert E. Lee, with the historical “Arlington House,” overlooking Washington D.C. in August 2009, eight years ago. We continue to call for a new Human Rights based statue to overlook our nation’s capital. R.E.A.L. offers such recommendations, because we respect for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and knowing that after war, there is need for the nation to heal.
As R.E.A.L. stated in August 2009, “We have a responsibility to allow our nation to heal from the divisions that we once had, and put an end to the unhealthy practices of those who seek to reopen old wounds that should have healed decades ago. We have a responsibility to challenge those who seek to parade about and wax nostalgic over our past differences and our hate towards one another. We must heal as one nation, undivided, and indivisible – with common bonds of human rights and human dignity. The pride we must seek is in our future together in shared equality and liberty.” “We are only one nation, one people, one flag, and one United States of America. While our history of the past is important, what truly matters is the future that we will make together. We have a responsibility to our children and to our children’s children – to offer them something new to be nostalgic about – not over our past differences – but about how we were willing to grow and mature as a people and nation, so that we could release our past differences, and promote symbols of unity, of equality, and of liberty together.”
“We propose that we create a new monument not to any man or to any woman – but a monument to every man and every woman. We propose that we create a new monument that doesn’t recognize just one race or ethnicity, but a monument to every race and every ethnicity. We propose the creation of a new monument not to any human being, but a monument to all human beings. We propose the creation of a new monument that truly represents the very idea of America itself – a commitment to equality, liberty, and universal human rights for all people.”
“We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to all those who need hope and inspiration. We have a responsibility to all those who seek justice. We have a responsibility to set an example for our children, their children, and the world. We have a responsibility to make certain that all those who come to our nation’s capital never fail to understand the idea of America that is greater than all of our leaders and history combined. We have a responsibility and a historic opportunity to challenge our government to create a new monument on this hill overlooking Washington DC – so that all those who visit can look up towards the sky and say – THAT is what America is really about – our universal human rights of equality and liberty. We have a responsibility to Equality And Liberty.”
R.E.A.L. urges Americans to end the venomous debate and violent hostility over these monuments. We have seen suffered through enough hate, seen enough violence, and we have had enough deaths. We have seen enough crimes and violations of the law against one another, and we don’t need such more crime, more violence, and more out of control mob behavior. R.E.A.L. urges the states with such an overabundance of 700+ Confederate memorials to reconsider finding a new purpose for memorials in those areas, replacing them with images of healing, unity, and non-violence, to remember the struggles of the last century, as the graves of our Civil War dead provide the only true statement we need to remember about the tragedy of American division. Let the United States become united once again, as a nation under one flag, one law, and one Constitution, with liberty and justice for all.