Letters to the editor – September 13th, 2017

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Don’t Remove. Repurpose!

Editor, Smithfield Times
In last week’s Times, I read with pain, a letter about the ongoing discussion of Civil War (not War Between the States or War of Northern Aggression) monuments. I love history, I majored in it when I went to college, but one of the purposes of studying history is to keep from repeating the mistakes of it! My home place is Boykin’s Tavern, at Isle of Wight Court House, I played many days around our Civil War monument, I memorized the poem on it — a poem about men who fought for the cause of the Confederacy (Over 10 percent of the white male population of the county did not return — a terrible loss).
To me, the granite marker reminded me of a time of glory and romance. I was taught that slavery was not the main cause of the rebellion, it was economic. And until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t even notice the monument when I went to Isle of Wight. am not black, I don’t come from a history of slavery, and have not suffered the negative effects of racial segregation and repression. I don’t know what the statue means to such folks.
The events of Charlottesville crashed into my thinking about monuments. I began to look at the history of them, the correct history. I realized that most in the south were raised as part of an effort to reassert the culture of racial repression which was at the core of the civil war. They were raised coincidental with the beginnings of Jim Crow, the KKK and frequent lynchings of black men.
Yes, they were built to remember the men, but also the “cause!”
I also recently read the Cornerstone Speech presented by the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens (yes, it’s on Wikipedia!). It articulated the “cause” of the rebellion. In graphic terms it preaches the reason and need for the enslavement of the black race and calls slavery a “cornerstone of the new (Confederate) nation.” So, I would suggest that documentation needs to be added to the monuments that would describe the cause for which the sons of the Confederacy fought, its evils, and errors. No longer should the monuments represent the “glories of a lost cause” but, the dangers of an evil cause!
Fred Walls

Not built to intimidate

Editor Smithfield Times,
Since there have been so many erroneous statements made about Confederate Monuments by the politically correct who want tolerance but tolerate nothing themselves, are using historic Monuments as political pawns for an election and want racial division for personal gain, I feel the actual facts must be known.
Monuments were not erected to intimidate African Americans. The persons claiming this have not produced one letter, document, speech or anything to substantiate this claim. If there were proof they certainly would have. The reason they were erected 20 to 50 years after the war is because there was no money for monuments in the war ravaged starving south, so it took many years to raise money a few penny’s at a time. This has been stated by distinguished African American Archivist Teresa Roane.
Monuments were not erected to celebrate slavery or the Confederacy. Ours and many others were erected for the reason stated on them, “To Our Confederate Dead”. Nothing more and nothing less. This was the “Vietnam Wall” for the people of that time, who’s great majority of non slave owning, men were sent to fight a war and in many cases were killed and buried where they fell. Like any other war, they were not asked their opinion, they were in many cases drafted or volunteered because they knew they would be. Or simply went to protect their family because they thought their country was being invaded.
Monuments cannot be moved because a local Government wants to move them. State law prohibits any locality, especially a County, from moving a monument. Every poll taken anywhere shows overwhelming support for leaving historic monuments alone. It has never been voted on because those that oppose them know what the outcome will be.
I find it ironic that the only visible thing to commemorate our own African American hero, Randall Booth, who saved our county records from destruction in that war, is a painting of him in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office that was commissioned by the same organization that assisted in erecting our Monument to Confederate Dead, the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Instead of being destructive and devisive, why not be constructive and put up some type of monument to him in front of the new courthouse. I would help with that endeavor.
Volpe Boykin

Storms not unusual

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Editor, Smithfield Times Kristie Smith (“Words and actions” letter, September 6) says the correlations between the impacts of Hurricane Harvey and climate change are “undeniable.” Miss Smith tells us that rising temperatures lead to more moisture in the atmosphere that then leads to increased rainfall.
While Hurricane Harvey set the record for rainfall in the continental United States, 51.88 inches, it is far from unprecedented.
On July 18, 1942, 34.30 inches of rain fell on HYPERLINK “https://weather.com/weather/today/l/Smethport+PA+USPA1520:1:US”Smethport, Pennsylvania in 12 hours. The largest 12-hour rainfall total in U.S. history.
Hurricane Hiki dumped a record 52 inches of rain on Kauai, Hawaii in 1950, before Hawaii became a state.
Before Hurricane Harvey, the record for rainfall in the continental U.S. was 48 inches, near Brownsville, TX, from Tropical Storm Amelia in July 1978.
On July 25, 1979, Tropical Storm Claudette dropped 43 inches of rain on Alvin, Texas in 24 hours. The record for 24-hour rainfall in the continental U.S. The storm’s total rainfall was 45 inches. Alvin is just 32 miles from Houston, Texas.
2005 was the most active hurricane season on record. Back then we were told hurricane seasons would become even more active as global temperatures rise. Despite “undeniable” global warming and climate change, the United States went almost 12 years without a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). Another record.
There is a long history of devastating and deadly tropical storms and hurricanes with records dating back to the 1490s. Many much worse than present day storms. These storms have always existed. When they hit our response should be “How can I help?”
I highly encourage everyone to donate food, shelter, time, money, or whatever it takes to help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and storms to come. In this way I agree with the old adage, “Actions do speak louder than words.”
Joe Naneville

Its own reward

Editor, Smithfield Times
Volunteering is a way of “giving back” to our society, our community or to people in need. It is the unselfish giving of ourselves and our time to a cause we hold dear in our hearts, a service done of our free will with no thought of reward or reciprocation. The act itself is its own reward.
Such are the thoughts of members of one of our State’s little-known volunteer groups, the Virginia Master Naturalists. This is a statewide corps of volunteers who provide education, service, and outreach that benefits our State’s woodlands, wildlife, and waterways.
There are currently 29 chapters in Virginia, and one is right here in Isle of Wight County — the Historic Southside Chapter.
Our chapter is engaged in various projects. One is our “bluebird box monitoring project.” This project, which just completed its third season, is a collaborative effort with members of the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club. Our volunteers build, install, and monitor man-made boxes that provide an artificial habitat for nesting eastern bluebirds and provide them a safe place to lay their eggs, brood, and raise their young. The beautiful eastern bluebird is a native species of Virginia whose population was declining due to habitat loss and competitive invasive species, but efforts like these have created resurgence in their numbers.
Our volunteers check the boxes once a week during the laying season. They record the number of eggs laid, the number of chicks that hatch and eventually fledge. The data collected is compiled and reported to the VBS where it becomes a permanent part of their records. In the three years that we have engaged in this project, we have provided a safe haven for the bluebirds that has resulted in nearly 800 chicks that have fledged and live among us in our community.
This is just one of the ways that the Historic Southside Chapter contributes to our local environment. To find out details about our chapter and our activities, check out our website at vmnhistoricsouthside.org. And, if the volunteer spirit moves you, you can take our classes and become a member. Classes are held once a year beginning in February. See our website for further details.
Linda Langdon