Broken tombstones was the thought I had when I read the Associated Press article, “Mississippi offices closed for Confederate day” in the April 28 Daily Journal. The article disparaged the observance of Confederate Memorial Day by 11 states because of “state law that has been on the books for decades” and where “few – if any – public ceremonies mark the occasion.”
The fact is most Sons of Confederate Veterans camps and United Daughters of the Confederacy chapters across the South sponsor public observances. There may have been fewer this year due to weather cancellations but most were rescheduled like our annual observance at the Tippah County Courthouse.
The first observance of Confederate Memorial Day was in 1866 by the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., who invited the ladies in other states to join in the observance. In 1868 the Union Civil War Veterans felt it would be good “to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right” and began what would become our national Memorial Day observance.
Rather then demean and minimize Confederate Memorial Day we should be using it to teach the lessons of history. King Solomon wrote long ago, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Our ancestors engaged in a desperate and bloody struggle and there are many lessons to be learned from it – both good and bad. If we try to hide or ignore those lessons we could be doomed to repeat that terrible era.
A tombstone is a memorial to and a reminder of a person and the life he or she lived. We have tombstones that remind us of the greatest and the worst in our history. Each one represents lessons we can learn to better enable us to live our lives today. If those tombstones are broken and destroyed we lost those lessons from the past. Don’t let Confederate Memorial Day become a broken tombstone whose lessons are forever lost.