Editor’s note: The following is a letter written to the Grayson County judge and Commissioners Court.
It is time to remove the Confederate monument.
However noble the misguided cause of our geographical ancestors, this monument is an embarrassment and, quite frankly, a stain on our county. While we may do our best to romanticize the struggles of our nation’s past, if we are to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us then it should be for those who honored the nation, not those who took up arms against it. We should not – tacitly by inaction or otherwise – use our county grounds to stand with those who fought against our nation. Letting this monument remain does exactly that and more.
I believe we all know why the war was fought, no matter how much others may want to whitewash history. The plaque on the monument itself glorifies the “high born patriotism” of yesteryear, a/k/a, the good ol’ days of rich white guys fighting to their death for the right to own slaves. It attempts to honor “the devotion to duty, of exalted courage” as if we can separate the same from the inevitable result of such treasonous “duty” – the carnage of dead U.S. soldiers, some mere boys – who died defending the United States against the Confederates.
Am I alone in noting the irony of this statue standing on the courthouse square?
Our courthouse should represent justice, yet it is with great hypocrisy that we should ever make such a claim, given the homage we pay to the injustice that is the Confederacy. And I state that it is the Confederacy because it is alive and well, thanks in no small part to people such as we who have let stand monuments to its sorry existence. Why do we continue to do this?
Monuments such as ours embolden those who exemplify the worst among us. A Confederate symbol is no less offensive to justice than is that of the Nazi or white supremacist; they are all a blight on humanity and emblematic of the injustice wrought by those who abuse their right to live among us.
It was under the watchful eye of our honored Confederate soldier that a mob grabbed the body of George Hughes from our courthouse, drug him behind a car, hung him from a tree and burned him. They no doubt found safe harbor in the shadows of their white man’s statue, and meted out a brand of justice that would make any Confederate proud, not because George Hughes was guilty, but because of the color of his skin. That type of justice is honored on our monument, referenced as “southern chivalry,” a saying championed in the defeated Confederacy where brute force was favored over diplomacy. Why do we permit this plaque to exist?
People are not born racist; it is an acquired taste. Sadly, those who promote it and practice it don’t simply die off without leaving their lousy legacy for the next generation to carry on in their absence. One way they do this is by convincing leaders to permit them to erect monuments on courthouse squares. We are no less complicit when we let stand our symbol of injustice and racism. We own it. Why do we do this?
It is time to remove the Confederate monument. We could replace it with something that tells all how our county is welcoming, inclusive of all, and not led by the dead hand of the past. You have an opportunity to speak today for the entire county, and in doing so you can do your part in helping us silence those who need to be silenced. No longer when the sun rises should this monument of hate and prejudice cast a shadow on our very halls of justice.
I am sure it was the county leaders and commissioners of that dark time in our history that gave approval to use our land in dedication to honor those who were on the wrong side of history, and are most certainly on the wrong side of our future. From this point forward, you too get to choose whether and how to honor those who defended the Constitution while the ink was still drying, or whether you will instead continue to tell all that Grayson County chooses to insult their very memory.
This is an easy choice. Do the right thing. Get this trash off our lawn!
David M. Kennedy is a Sherman-based attorney.