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Jaster: Humanity on both sides of the conflict

  Until a war has ended and the victors have written their story, there is no clear hero or villain. On both sides of the war, there is violence, destruction, terror, tragedy, miracles and blurred lines between right and wrong. Most importantly, however, there is humanity. As we advance into the future and organize memories of the past, one thing is crucial to remember: There is humanity on both sides of every conflict.

  In front of the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg stands a bronze Confederate soldier, standing guard from atop a stone pillar since May 28, 1908. His blind, bronze eyes gaze solemnly forward, revealing little emotion, but suggesting no threat. His face is bluntly average, lacking uniqueness in such a way that his could be the face of any American from any time in history: He could be camping in the trenches of World War I, protesting the Vietnam War, returning from the war in Iraq, walking down our modern busy streets while holding hands with his children.

  And yet, the soldier’s mere presence on courthouse grounds has sparked controversy throughout the Town of Leesburg. He has been surrounded by groups standing in his defense and arguing for his removal, based upon claims that Confederate monuments seek to recall a dark time in American history, that they threaten national unity and defend the advocates of racism. Phillip Thompson, president of the local branch of the NAACP, claims that the statue’s dedication in 1908 was deliberate. “The Confederacy is still here, this is how we feel about it,” he told The Washington Post.  In other words, the statue is less for remembrance and more for the purpose of rebelling against what has come of Union victory. In 1908, Jim Crow was still in effect, and the South was unyielding in its stance. Perhaps, the Confederate statue was erected to embody this.

  But the statue does not incite rebellion; the statue is not meant to threaten racial equality. At the time of the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers did not believe they were fighting for oppression: slavery was hardly the focus of the war until later on. The Southern people felt that they themselves were being oppressed by the North, and were pressed until they felt the need to form their own nation in favor of democratic principles. Confederate soldiers were just as human as the Union soldiers: they had families at home who prayed for their safety, hometowns that feared for the future, an inner confidence that their cause was just and imperative. Union and Confederate soldiers were brothers and compatriots, all freedom-fighters that were divided by different views and political tensions.

  Although the story of the Civil War is told differently in every state, the human condition of every soldier is utterly undeniable. Likewise, the Civil War is undeniably, inextricably intertwined in present Leesburg, from the names of the streets to the historic downtown whose facade has hardly changed. Despite the modern transience of the population, there continue to be families who have lived in Leesburg for decades: perhaps descendants of the very Confederate soldiers that the statue honors. The Confederate soldier statue is a part of Leesburg, a part of history and a part of humanity. To remove the statue would be to deny the truth and dishonor thousands of brave souls.

  According to Thompson, the NAACP merely requests a more balanced remembrance of the past, one that includes honors for Union soldiers, slaves and the heroes of the Underground Railroad, according to The Washington Post. Each of these groups deserves modern recognition, and their impacts on today’s society should be cherished by all people. The Civil War is in the past, and it is time for all Americans to pledge allegiance to one nation, letting go of the 19th-century bitterness. Confederate flags should not be flown, as they are symbols of tensions and divisions.

  The Confederate soldier, however, is no flag and does not carry the same meaning. The statue appears as a human being, for the purpose of honoring human beings who gave their lives for what they believed in. Surrendering Confederate ties will not create national unity unless the one-sidedness of the Reconstruction is also left to the past. Unity requires an honorable remembrance of every brave American, regardless of their views or the uniforms that they wore.

Emily Jaster

Heritage High School Senior

Bloom: Constitution Party offers third option

I am the Constitution Party of Virginia Ballot Access coordinator, and, up until a few weeks ago, I was a member of the Republican Party of Virginia and still a current supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz. Not only did I attend the Republican State Convention, I was the person who proposed the resolution urging Republican members of the legislature to pass legislation allowing Virginia voters to voluntarily register with a political party, so political parties can close the nomination process to Republicans.

I resigned a few days later after life-long Democrat Donald Trump became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.

As a current representative of a third [arty, supporter of Sen. Cruz and a former member of the Republican Party, I believe I am more than qualified to address Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’ comment that a third party candidate is a “suicide mission” nothing could be further from the truth. It would be a “suicide mission” if the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump and there is no third party candidate conservatives can vote. What supporters of Trump, and that includes, Chairman Priebus, fail to comprehend, is that most of Sen. Cruz’s supporters and many conservatives have standards of ethics and honesty, that they could never vote for Trump, under any circumstances.

Most intend to write in Sen Cruz’s name, however, their votes will not be counted unless Sen. Cruz files a form with the State Board of Elections that contains the name of electors for that state. If that option is not available, they would consider voting for a third party candidate or they will stay home. Staying home could endanger the Republicans from keeping control of the U.S Senate and possibly the House. That is why it would be a suicide mission to nominate Donald Trump and not have a third party candidate conservatives can come out and vote for and help preserve Congress in Republican Control.

Chairman Priebus also has no clue about Trump voters, and that does not even include the majority of Republican voters, that are so filled with hatred they are incapable of rational thought. They hate Hillary so much, yet fail to realize if she was elected with a Republican Congress she would be even weaker than her husband Bill was during his last four years in office. They are so filled with hatred of foreigners, they support a man that hired illegal immigrants and abused the VISA program to hire foreign workers instead of Americans.

They are so filled with hatred of bad trade deals, they support a man that outsourced his tie and shirt lines to companies in foreign companies.

Over 70 percent of Northern Virginia Republican voters did not vote for Trump and if they want a choice and not an echo in November, they can get involved with the Constitution Party of Virginia.

John Bloom

Constitution Party of Virginia

Hamlar: Equal pay for equal work must be addressed today

According to the U.S. Labor Force, women make up nearly half of the workforce. They are significantly contributing to our workplaces and our economy, yet collectively they are not earning equitable salaries. In 2014, U.S. women working full-time jobs earned only 79 percent of what men made in the same positions. African-American women earned 64 cents and Latina women earned 56 cents for every dollar earned by Caucasian men in the same positions.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women in the workplace be given equal pay for equal work. And the Virginia Equal Pay Act “prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex when paying for work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and that is performed under similar working conditions.”

In Virginia, we must proactively address the gender pay gap because it creates a critical deficiency within our economy. It is not fair, and it is not a good business practice. However, if we work on solutions, together we can ensure that the New Virginia Economy is a reality and that Virginia is effectively positioned for the future.

We cannot allow this to be a future Virginia issue. It must be addressed today. The sooner we can close the gap, the sooner we will see the realization of the New Virginia Economy that attracts and sustains an effective, diverse workforce.

Michael L. Hamlar

Step Up Virginia

Pien: Fossil fuel projects don’t respect ‘web of existence’

Estrada: A slap in the face of democracy

Crouch: Viewshed sustains tourism, history and our sense of place

Smart: Toxic campaign taints America

Dorfman: How new rules push out those who built local franchises

Huyck: Protecting viewshed is vital

Owen: Give Choose drive serves community

Thompson: Tolerance or Intolerance? Racial issues in schools warrant action by LCPS

Korode: Student boycott unfair to Falwell

Sawyer: Blame liberals, political correctness

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