Memories and monuments

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

It deeply saddens me that there is so much anger and even hatred here in Surry County. I wish I could somehow convince the people who wish to destroy any remembrance of the Confederacy and any image or statue honoring our ancestors who fought in it that you cannot erase history.

Unfortunately the  Civil War and slavery are a part of America’s history. I deeply regret that there are those who find so much pain and hatred in those “memories,” and here in the writing of this I put the word “memories” in quotation marks. Why? Because they are not the “memories” of any of us here. They are the memories that your grandparents or perhaps your great-grandparents, passed on to you.

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Neither you nor I was ever a slave or owned a slave. Sadly you can remove, tear down, destroy and erase any visual evidence that these monuments ever existed, but you cannot erase history or memories. It happened. And yes, the Confederacy lost the Civil War!

Black Americans have accomplished more than any other people of their race in the whole world. You have so much to be proud of. I cannot begin to list them all. I strongly suggest the following: Celebrate your people’s accomplishments. Stop criticizing the country and society that has given you the opportunities and the successes you have. You and your people have risen from slavery to the highest office in our country. Focus on that!

You have risen to become doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, scientists, businessmen, senators, congressmen and women and president of our country. Yes, there is still prejudice; there always will be, on both sides. Unfortunately, humans, black and white, are not perfect and we never will be this side of eternity. But tear down or remove that statue and you will drive a far deeper wedge between the races in our county than now exists. That, truly, will be a huge loss to us both.


Helen Eggleston