Remembering The Past

Our history is important. We all have a personal history that shows the what and why of who we are as people. We have a family history that connects us to our relatives and the special kinship that makes a family unique, and we have a shared history as a state and a nation that shows how through struggle, America has become the greatest and most diverse nation in the world.
Part of that history is the Civil War. We could debate all day the reasons for the Civil War–some will say it has everything to do with slavery while others will say the cause was other economic conflicts and issues. We are not here to debate the issue. It is an issue that people must decide for themselves.
There are several things that we can all agree on. One is that history, though parts are painful for some, cannot be erased. It should be studied, dealt with, learned from, and embraced as part of the struggle that has made our country what it is today. Another is that there were some good men in both the North and the South who fought and lost their lives in loyalty to a cause they believed in, whether their cause was right or wrong, an issue we will also not debate. Families on both sides took both pride and solace in the courage shown and the sacrifices made in the defense of their cause.
In South Carolina, in recognition of the 70,000+ South Carolinians who served and the nearly 20,000 of these South Carolina soldiers who died in service to the Confederate military, we, as a state, observe Confederate Memorial Day on May 10th each year.
Government offices and some other offices will close for the holiday.
May 10th is a historically significant date because it is the day that Confederate Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson died from pneumonia, and it is also the day that Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops.
Confederate Memorial Day is not a celebration of evil and hate as some choose to believe. Evil and hate are sad facts that exist in all aspects of our world and are not limited to a particular gender, race, religion, etc. Confederate Memorial Day is instead a solemn holiday that observes “our rich history as South Carolinians and the heritage of valor, patriotism, devotion to duty, and the spirit of self-sacrifice” of … these Confederate ancestors–men and women, rich and poor, famous and unknown, white and black” (Source: South Carolina Heritage Act of 1999). Those proud of their Southern heritage and who wish to show respect and pride in their Confederate ancestors shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed as if they are doing something wrong.
If we are truly going to be a nation of diversity and inclusion, then that must INCLUDE everyone–people of all races and orientations, immigrants who came legally to this country in search of better lives, those who marched and fought for Civil rights and women’s rights, and yes, those whose family members fought in the Confederacy and who are proud of their heritage and who wish to celebrate it. True unity exists in the acceptance of everyone and in a tolerance of their right to have their own beliefs whether we agree with these beliefs or not.
We must remember our past if we are to appreciate our present and look forward to our future.