Dear Decaturish – Say ‘no’ to calls to remove Confederate monumentThe monument in downtown Decatur. Photo provided to Decaturish
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I am amazed by the City of Decatur. I do not know of a single city in Georgia where you could leave the courthouse after paying a fine and then enjoy steak and eggs at Waffle house or perhaps a liquid libation just a block away. Decatur did not always look like it does today. The events of over 150 years ago shaped the landscape. When the railroad came, It has been said Decatur did not want the problems associated with railroads, such as fire, thus a new terminus was chosen to later become Atlanta in 1847. Atlanta progressed with the railroad to become the Gate City of the South and Decatur profited too. Then the war came.
Sherman made his swath through Georgia and left his mark on the state. Many cities were burned all around Atlanta. In DeKalb County, soldiers took siding off homes to make camp fires. Property was looted and foodstuffs like flour and molasses were mixed together on the floor to make them useless to eat. The destruction was carried out through DeKalb County including burning homes in Stone Mountain. The memories of the war and the sacrifices of the soldiers that fought were alive in the children of veterans who lived through the disaster. Those same children grow up with those events still fresh in their minds. The memory of their loved ones, who fought and returned to DeKalb with injuries and amputations, inspired a memorial. Some of whom never returned home at all. Those daughters and remaining veterans readied a monument to the fallen with over a thousand DeKalb school children donating money to its creation in 1908.
We can essentially divide the Confederate Veterans of the past and todays history attackers into two groups. The makers and the takers.
Let’s take a look at some of the makers in Georgia. One motto of the City of Atlanta is “Resurgens” and the symbol of the phoenix is used representing a city that rose from the ashes of war. The same veterans that returned home from war took part in DeKalb and Fulton counties resurgence. They laid the groundwork for the cities you see today. It should be noted that Coca Cola was founded by a Confederate Veteran Johnathan Styth Pemberton abed the Atlanta Journal and Constitution was founded by Colonel Carey Wentworth Styles (Constitution) and Captain Edwin Hoge (Journal). Apparently no one is aware of how much a role these Confederates played in shaping Georgia’s History.
The Takers however have in almost every county in Georgia and throughout the South, through groups like the Democratic Socialists of America are attacking Ole Joe, a monument in Gainesville, Ga. In Durham N.C. , it was the Socialists World Workers Party. In Atlanta, a masked group attacked the Peace Memorial in Piedmont Park and, in Decatur some group or persons smeared feces on the monument there. The Confederate Veterans are not the only target of these groups who have their goals set on attacking the Founding Fathers and street names. These groups carry scripted responses in their attacks are claiming the monuments were founded in the Jim Crow era. If according to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Jim Crow era went from the 1870s and the 1960s that would include almost all monuments and structures in the South. The Socialist Party also had its beginnings in that era. Should we ban that too?
The point is the veterans of DeKalb County deserve better. These men kept the covenants they made with God and made sacrifices for all. The monument on Decatur’s square, not only stands for Confederate Veterans, but is a reminder of all veterans. A WWI Veterans statue came up missing in 2015 and there is no memorial to WWII, Vietnam or other wars on Decatur’s Square. The only monument speaking for these veterans has rested quietly on the courthouse square for over a century. In today’s society it is real easy to forget the makers who contributed.
I would recommend the city councils and commissioners respond to destructive takers the same way you deal with a petulant child. Simply say NO.
– Barry Colbaugh