“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

— George Santayana

Recent guest columns have advocated for removal of a monument in front of the county courthouse.

But I cannot think of a better monument for Black Lives Matter to rally around to keep. They should stand at its base and chant, “Remember!” The ideas of the Confederacy were wrong and were defeated. And this monument testifies to that defeat.

Go look at the statue itself. This monument doesn’t “celebrate” white supremacy.

The monument portrays a man defeated. His posture and facial expression aren’t proud. This isn’t a monument to a proud, victorious soldier, unlike so many Civil War monuments.

The monument is full of the symbolism of defeat. The man is hatless, on foot and holds a sword broken off to within a few inches of the handle. He carries a flag, with no identifiable markings; the flag pole is broken off, useless, not raised.

A cannon lies at his feet, its mouth pointed into the ground. These are all symbols of defeat. This is no glorious depiction of a victor mounted on a horse, sword raised. This is a man, and his cause, humbled in defeat, looking to the future, seeking to speak to us today.

A Black child can be taught today at the foot of this monument that those who subjected Black Africans to slavery were defeated because right always defeats wrong. And that while some white Americans fought to keep Blacks enslaved, other white Americans — in great numbers — died to make them free.

A white child can be taught the same lessons. Removing the monument removes the starting point for honest, brave and, yes, painful but necessary conversations. Come now, and let us reason together.

History is messy. Much of it is very unpleasant. But simply erasing history is pointless and counterproductive.

Monuments to the Holocaust, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan, and to the many other horrors of what people can do to people, remind us of a history we don’t want to repeat.

Every school child in Germany today is required to take a field trip to a Nazi death camp to learn the shameful history of their ancestors.

I challenge Galvestonians to actually go see the monument for themselves and ask themselves what the monument itself — not all the rhetoric that surrounds it, not what others say it means — but what the monument itself says to them as thinking individuals today.

I say the monument is a testament to the death of bad ideas and a reminder that we must all reason together to check “the purity of our motives” and how much we really embrace the truths of our country’s founding documents and its ruling Constitution.

Both Black and white Americans can unite in pointing to this monument and in agreement say, “Remember this! This was wrong!”

This monument is different; Galveston should embrace it and use it to move forward.

Brad Heller lives in Galveston.

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(10) comments

Carlos Ponce

Brad Heller [thumbup].

Bailey Jones

Nope.

“Erected to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Confederate States of America by The Veuve Jefferson Davis Chapter No. 17, United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911 Galveston, Texas.

”There has never been an armed force which in purity of motives intensity of courage and heroism has equaled the Army and Navy of the Confederate

States of America 1861-65”

I guess I'm missing the "sorry, we were wrong" aspect that you find in the monument. But I'm all for leaving it there, as long as sufficient context is added. Since cost seems to be a consideration, let's just knock it off its pedestal and leave it in the dirt - a literal "dustbin of history" where the real motives of the confederacy deserve to be.

Carlos Ponce

"I guess I'm missing the 'sorry, we were wrong' aspect" Yes, you are clearly missing it. Brad Heller clearly explains it.

David Hardee

Mr. Heller, your composition of a rationale for the statues being and staying is a useless effort.

These peculiar malcontents which tolerated the statue until - a black man and a white cop - both of seedy backgrounds - appeared at the same time and place - and karma played its role to the full extent that both participants' lives were essentially over.

That Mr. Heller awoke the desire to remove the statue. From that awakening has sprung all the dastardly mantras, demonstrations, lootings, burnings, and killings.

Our local malcontents must keep alive the statue issue hoping to accelerate into dastardly deeds and arriving as comparable to those cities that have reaped the just desserts of being Progressive Liberal Democratic harbors of DEGRIGATION, DEATH, AND DESTRUCTION.

These local malcontents have vested interests at stake. Some are founders and CEOs of institutions that have tax free status. Some are well paid ($150,000.00 plus) presidents of institutions like the NAACP that are tax-exempt and generate social services with tutorials attached. These are community leaders with the responsibility to create social chaos in concert with their brethren.

Hope these promoters of chaos will move back to negotiations without another march where the marchers are carrying guns. Guns will be met with guns and eventually someone will get hurt.

SO STOP IT.

Kenneth Macpherson

A monument is not history itself; a monument commemorates an aspect of history, representing a moment in the past when a public or private decision defined who would be honored in a community’s public spaces.

To remove such monuments is neither to “change” history nor “erase” it. What changes with such removals is what American communities decide is worthy of civic honor.

From the Statement on Confederate Monuments

Approved by AHA Council August 28, 2017

American Historical Association

400 A Street SE, Washington, DC

202-544-2422

historians.org

Carlos Ponce

AHA is today's equivalent of the "Ministry of Truth" found in George Orwell's "1984". "The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect."

Removing statues rewrites history.

Thomas Carpenter

That statue rewrites history the way southern white supremacists want it to read. Tear it down and put a Yankee soldier there, waving the stars and stripes and smiling as he reads the Emancipation Proclamation.

Carlos Ponce

Silly Thomas! Trying to say the Galveston Daily News of over 100 years ago rewrites history! How very Orwellian of you!

Ted Gillis

Okay all my little black children, let’s all gather around the white soldier’s statue so we can teach you a lesson about Black Lives Matter......

Please!

Just tear the thing down like Bailey suggests and place a couple of benches and a toad pond in it’s place like most other old town square parks.

Carlos Ponce

One would not teach about "Black Lives Matter" around the monument but about American History, the History of Galveston, the history of one of the philanthropic families of Galveston, Henry and Mollie Rosenberg.

Ted grew up on the island, probably saw the statue at sometime in his youth and it didn't bother him. Did you ever hear a person of African-American descent say the statue was offensive in the 20th Century?

Growing up in Galveston you probably heard of pirates but did you hear the island, the city, the county, the hotel was named after a man who imported slaves? Did bother you when you were told?

There are other historical markers on the courthouse square. Did you ever stop to look at them during either century of your existence?

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