Life is a series of experiences. Some are good, others not. But taken together, they make us who we are. There are events best forgotten. However, they cannot and should not be erased because they too are the stepping stones of our journey. We may look back with regret but must acknowledge that those errors in life helped to mold us.

Like the physical scars we bear as testimony to our past experiences, memories of errors must be accepted as part of our journey. Unblemished biographies are a product of lies and deception.

The same applies to society. The actions of multitudes of people follow a similar track as each individual’s life experience. We have to accept the good with the bad. We must acknowledge the importance of all if we wish to fully comprehend why we are where we are.

Monuments to events past, by their mere existence, are not confrontational unless some choose to make them so. They are instructional.

The Confederacy was about slavery, no question. But it was also about the persistent constitutional struggle between federalism and anti-federalism. Nearly 700,000 men lost their lives in this struggle. Despite what they may have believed or fought for, it happened, and the result was the termination of America’s greatest horror: slavery.

Our reactions to that critical event in American history have varied over the years. Monuments mark that transition. We should accept and acknowledge our evolution. To deny the past, to purge all evidence of unpopular events serves to sever new generations from the lessons of the past.

Monuments should never be destroyed or removed. That is an expression of ignorance and anti-intellectualism at its worst, like book banning and burning. Civilized communities do not suppress of that which they disapprove. However, plaques placing these symbols in historical perspective can be of value. That would serve to make these symbols of the past instructional while maintaining the rich and diverse cultural heritage of our city, warts and all.

Ron Chapman

professor of history, Nunez Community College