Wednesday, June 08, 2011
A monument to brave duty in a broken world
My original plan for this day was to head out around lunch to grab a spot at the back of the chamber and do live blogging of this afternoon’s meeting of Reidsville City Council. Agenda Item #5 was public comments on how to proceed with the Confederate Soldiers Monument, which was greatly damaged in an unfortunate vehicular accident on May 23rd. So I was going to be there and blog/tweet during the session.
In the end however, I chose not to attend, for a number of reasons. There was already going to be quite a large crowd in attendance with limited space available, and since I don’t live in the city limits proper I didn’t think it was going to be fair. Citizen journalist though I am, I’m also a citizen who’s already publicly stated that the monument should be restored. There were a number of associates who had more reason to be there than I, and I greatly appreciate the reports that they have sent to me.
The biggest reason why I didn’t go however, is that in my mind, at this time there is no "controversy" about the monument. It was damaged in an accident, the driver’s insurance will certainly pay to have it repaired (as happens countless times across the country each and every day). Did I have a reason to be there as an independent journalist of some repute (hopefully good)?
It began dawning on me yesterday evening that I should just steer clear of this meeting, to not "dignify" a non-issue with attention, and be content to give Mayor James Festerman and the city council the benefit of the doubt and trust them to do the right thing. As of this writing, I’m still counting on them to do that by letting the monument be repaired. Besides, I know that at least one of the Reidsville City Council members is a regular reader of this blog, so my thoughts and observances are going to be considered even if they aren’t in the official record.
I’m thankful for those who came to speak in favor of the monument. And I think that I did the right thing in being an absent presence of publick reporterage on this occasion. But based on what I’m hearing this afternoon, I’m gonna keep a really hairy eyeball on this… and if Mayor Festerman and council doesn’t do right, I’m gonna be on them like white on rice!
Here’s to hoping them to do the right thing, however. The Confederate Soldiers Monument (shown before the accident), contrary to what some speakers at today’s meeting asserted, is not a monument to a lost cause. It is not a monument to a slavery. It is absolutely NOT a monument to racism!
You want to know what that’s a monument to?
It is a monument to nearly two thousand men of Rockingham County – more than most other counties in the state which sent the most soldiers to serve in the Confederate army – who arose to the task of defending their families and their communities in a conflict that certainly not one of them had wanted to see in their lifetime or the lifetime of their children.
It is a monument to men who lived in unenviable times and had to cope with those times per an all too natural wisdom that it can not be said a century and a half later has appreciably deepened in clarity… by any of us under the sun.
It is a monument to men who went to fight in a war that was clearly unfortunate… but only the most ignorant or the most foolish would call it a war with any side that was clearly evil.
It is a monument to men who were only doing what they knew best to do in this fallen world, not out of hate but out of love.
It is a monument to men who did what they did, out of duty to God as best that they understood that duty.
Who are we, who are any of us, to presume that we know better or that we would have done otherwise?
Because as far as this writer is concerned, the men who went out from their farms in Rockingham County, were fighting as much for the freedom that we have today… including the freedom to never have to make the choices that they were forced to make… as they were fighting for their own families and friends and communities.
Nearly two thousand men in Rockingham County served in the army of the Confederate States of America. More than six hundred never came home. That too, is a higher percentage than this county’s fair share of participation in the Civil War. Either across the state or across the states of the Confederacy.
If none of that is worth remembering, honoring and even celebrating, then… I honestly don’t know what would be.
© 2011 Christopher Knight