Supervisor Kershner, your suggestion that the Confederate statue on Loudoun’s courthouse grounds is “solely a tribute placed by loving family members to remember their fallen” is incredulous. If that was the sole purpose of the statue, it would have been placed in Union Cemetery, near their “beloved” family members. It was not. It was placed in the middle of town, on the courthouse lawn, in 1908. Context matters.
What was happening in Virginia in 1908? Did Virginia Confederates quickly concede that the south lost the war? Or did they erect memorials in prominent locations throughout the state, to send a message, much more about race and politics, than about lost loved ones?
I hope you agree that a courthouse is a place that everyone, regardless of race, should be treated equally. Can you imagine what it was like for people seeing that statue as they walked into the courthouse in the early 1900s? Do you really not see the message that statue, in that location, during that time period, was intended to send? If you don’t, I suggest you learn more about that era.
I agree that history is “not something you hide from or destroy.” However, there are ways to teach it that don’t honor mistakes or cause ongoing harm to those who have historically been mistreated. If you travel to Germany, you will not see statues of Hitler or Nazi soldiers in public squares. Many Nazi soldiers died in World War II, and most probably had families who grieved for them. Those are not reasons to glorify them in public spaces. The hatred and reprehensible things those kinds of statues represent have no place on public property. This is true, regardless of whether the ancestors of Nazi soldiers think they were just doing what they thought was right at the time or they thought they were just defending their communities. That is the substance of your defense.
You said that “attacking our historical landmarks … will only serve to reopen wounds in our community and set back race relations in our county.” It is impossible to “reopen” wounds that have never healed. These wounds have never healed because they were left untreated. The ongoing division and bitterness we are now seeing throughout our nation is because people like you, and those who erected that monument in 1908, still haven’t recognized the harm that slavery, Jim Crow laws, and ongoing systemic racism have caused.
You claimed that removing this statue would be placing us on a “slippery slope” and wondered “what’s next?” You suggested people might try to rename the Town of Leesburg. FYI, Leesburg was not named after Robert E. Lee. It appears you have a lot to learn about local history. Your use of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., to defend your position on this issue, was the height of hypocrisy.
This is not a “slippery slope.” It is, to paraphrase the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., the arc of the universe bending towards moral justice. As a supervisor, you have power to help bend that arc in the right direction. I urge you to educate yourself and vote appropriately.