If you ever visit the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, you will find the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
The top half of the monument is constructed of Alabama limestone, the bottom half of granite from Maine, and, dedicated by Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 on the 75th anniversary of the battle, it was meant as a national tribute to the soldiers of both armies who gave their lives on that field.
More than that, though, it is one among many examples of how the Union chose peace, unity and reconciliation over division, resentment and hate by graciously honoring the heroes of the old Confederacy. Indeed, when, towards war’s end, President Lincoln was urged to hang rebellious Southern leaders, Lincoln responded “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
Rebuking the spirit of respect and reconciliation practiced by Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt, local NAACP President James Muwakkil has decided to cast his stone at the portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging on the wall of the Old County Courthouse. But if our county commission were to give in to his demand and remove the painting, would they not be surrendering to a destructive logic that would also bring down the county that bears Lee’s name and countless other markers to our history and heritage?
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