Like it or not, Confederacy our history

The Daily Republic, in its editorial April 24, said Confederate flags should have no place in South Dakota even in museums. Why? It is a part of the history of our great nation and of South Dakota as well.

During the Revolutionary War, all English commanders had a list of signers to the Declaration of Independence. Two-thirds of them were murdered and/or their homes burned to the ground.

 

There was a lot of killing and destruction to innocent civilians. My great-great-great-great Grandpa Jonathan Gillam fought in the Revolutionary War, and my great-great-great Grandpa Jonathan Jr. fought in the War of 1812. Should we ban the English flag from display? It is a part of our history.

During World War II, Hitler tried to change the history of the German people with atrocities too numerous to mention. My stepfather Floyd Stevens entered World War II from Howard. In his last battle liberating a concentration camp with POWs, he took a Nazi flag. He and all members of his unit signed their names on that flag. Should I destroy that flag because it was the banner of true evil or proudly display it to thank those who served to rid our world of that evil? It is a part of our history.

My great-great-great-great Grandpa Jonathan was dead by the time of the Civil War, but he lost one son, 10 grandsons and 25 great-grandsons in that war. They all believed in one united nation. One of his great-grandsons was Ezekiel Gillam (my grandpa). He fought with the Iowa infantry. After the war, he moved his family to Rapid City, which at the time was little more than a general store with a post office, a bank, a blacksmith shop and a livery stable.

Ezekiel’s eldest daughter married Lorenzo Taylor, a Confederate veteran from North Carolina. He was 12 years old at war’s end. Lorenzo’s eldest daughter was the first editor for the Rapid City Journal. Her eldest daughter was the first female in South Dakota to pass the bar exam. Should we now remove his Civil War headstone at Mountain View Cemetery in Rapid City because he was a drummer boy for the Confederacy? Should the accomplishments of my great uncle and his family here in South Dakota be stricken from history because he fought under the Confederate flag?

All from the South did not fight for slavery. There were other reasons as well. Just as after the war’s end many moved on to be pioneers and patriots here in South Dakota as well. If you are interested in doing away with all history of slavery, think of all you would need to shun. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson — they owned slaves. Do we hide Mount Rushmore? Isn’t it true we should not forget our mistakes lest we repeat them?

You see, good or bad, it is all part of our history, and no one has the right to remove it.

BRUCE GILLAM SR.