Commentary: History, good or bad, should be preserved

I am a history buff, always have been. I accept the history of this country regardless which side states took during the Civil War. I may disagree with their position, but I respect their passion.

I have taken my kids when they were in school during their vacations to various states to learn the history of this country, not to the delight of my kids. We even visited Gettysburg, the battlefield where they still hold mock skirmishes.

I understand the Civil War, why the South stood against the North. I may not agree with the reasoning of the South, but I respect their history and I have mixed feelings when statues of the Southern Confederacy are removed.

What if the war had gone the other way. Would we want the statues of our northern war generals removed? Would the Lincoln Memorial have been constructed if the South had won?

I hear remarks about the statues and the Confederate flag as being, “a symbol of racism and treason, offensive, hurts feelings”, especially from the black community.”

I hear their cries, many are living survivors of slaves when families were separated, husband, wives and children, slave women raped, men strapped to poles beaten, and many hung and had houses burned.

Frank Calio

Many veterans still recall the German and Japanese mistreatment during World War I and World War II. Jewish people still recall the Holocaust. I respect their anti feelings. Yet many of these people have moved on, some going back to the site of their pain and reuniting with the enemy.

I don’t appreciate the misuse of the Confederate and Nazi flags as were used in the North Carolina hate rally. I do not approve of seeing the Confederate flag in the back of a pickup or in someone’s front yard.

That war is over, we are all Americans now! The red, white, and blue flag represents all of us.

However the Confederate flag, properly displayed, as is the case in Georgetown where a monument was installed in 2007 by the Delaware chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who raised money to install the monument, should not be controversial.

However it is; The Georgetown Historical Society, which offered the land for this use, is being penalized by the state for allowing the monument and flag on their property to the tune of losing $14,000 through the state’s grant-in-aid bill.

Now, $14,000 may appear to be a drop in the bucket, but to a nonprofit, dependent on donations to survive, it is a big drop.

The state of Delaware is as divided as they were during the Civil War. The northern part of the state favored the Union. Although the state was listed as a Union state, many in southern Delaware fought for the state, others sympathizers. Many after the war were KKK members.

While Delaware remained in the Union during the Civil War, it was a slave state with about 2,000 residents fighting for the Confederacy.

State Sen. Trey Paradee, D, Dover, one of 12 members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, was assigned to review the section of the grant-in-aid measure, which included cultural and tourism groups, which included the Georgetown Historical Society.

Paradee stated in a Delaware State News article, “I find it offensive that the flag of our great state is flown at the same height as the Confederate battle flag, which is frequently displayed together with the Nazi swastika by white supremacist groups, like the KKK, as a symbol of hate and racial intolerance.

“I will not play any role in supporting organizations that continue to celebrate the Confederacy and the traitors who fought for its failed racist ideology of hate and enslavement. To recommend a grant in any amount would be a betrayal to my constituents and every friend of mine who descended from African slaves,” he concluded.

Mr. Paradee is a good senator but I say to him, Senator, if your side had lost the war, if you displayed the Stars and Stripes, would you be considered a traitor?

I disagreed with his remark that the flag and monument served no “educational purpose”. Do you just forget that war, take it out of the history books? The war happened! And future generations need to know why!

The society sponsors events associated with the Civil War, having mock battles, showing how the soldiers lived during the war and other events associated with Delaware history of the conflict. I have attended some of those events and I enjoyed learning the history of the war. They are the most active historical society in Sussex County.

When you take your kids south, and all the Civil War statues have been removed, how do you teach history and the history of this country?

Not all history is pleasant, but history happens and should be preserved to remember the good and the bad.

Jeff Plummer, commander of the Son of Confederate Veterans’ Delaware Chapter, a descendant of a Confederate soldier, said those who served and fought for the Confederacy should be remembered for their sacrifice.

He mentioned his organization is “strictly a historical organization, not political.”

But for many, seeing the Confederate flag in public makes a political statement, that of racism. The racism pot which simmered during the Obama administration, has boiled over during the Trump administration. He has done nothing to silence racism chants during his public speeches, when all he had to do at times was raise his hand and say NO!

The Civil War left many scars from both sides. More than 600.000 Americans lost their lives by the time the war ended and slaves were granted their freedom.

The Georgetown Historical Society’s nonprofit board has voted to keep the flag and monument.

The two legislators representing Georgetown, State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn and Rep. Ruth Briggs King were not notified of Paradee’s decision ahead of the vote a courtesy usually extended by a fellow legislator.

Frank Calio, a native of Laurel, previously served as Delaware’s state election commissioner.

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