Tribute to rebel soldiers Old marker: Rededication near Howard County courthouse could be used to urge racial harmony.

September 21, 1998

IT IS THE right of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and anyone else who so desires to gather peacefully and commemorate the rebels from Howard County who fought for the South in the Civil War.

They plan to do so Saturday at a rededication of a Confederate monument near the Howard County Circuit Courthouse in Ellicott City.

Many people wish the granite tombstone had never been erected on public property. (It was dedicated Sept. 23, 1948.) But it's there. And those who feel compelled to honor what it represents to them should not be prohibited.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans says it wants to pay homage to relatives of its members who fought valiantly for the South, not to the racism that is associated with Confederate emblems.

The organization chooses to ignore the racist way of life, including slavery, that the Confederate Army sought to preserve. But the group cannot expect the same selective memory of the descendants of slaves and those who fought bravely to preserve the Union.

The marker originally dedicated by the Howard County Confederate Monument Association includes a bronze plaque with the names of 92 Howard County men who were in the rebel army.

It would be a greater tribute to those soldiers to gather not just to remember the history in which they took part, but to express the desires of their remaining kin for a more harmonious future.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans should invite the NAACP to the event. It would be wonderful to see people of all hues and persuasions gathered at the Confederate memorial to celebrate their humanity. They could dedicate themselves to ending the racism that still exists. When there is no racism, Confederate flags and memorials and other emblems from the past won't hurt people who this day cannot blind their eyes to all that those symbols represent.

Pub Date: 9/21/98

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