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Opinion: We cannot judge previous generations by our current standards
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The Confederate Memorial monument, commonly referred to as, "Old Joe," pictured in 2017 in downtown Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

As a lover of history, I'm appalled at the current move to destroy statues and monuments dedicated to American historical figures and renaming military bases. Renaming bases or destroying memorials does not change history but does offend many who have a personal connection to them.  

As a Georgian, I have ancestors who have fought in every war since the French and Indian War of 1763, which makes me feel very connected to the history of the United States. Many of the Confederates who have statues were more than just Confederates. They served as leaders in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, they were senators, congressmen, governors and diplomats. 

Many of these statues were erected to honor the loved ones who died from that area and not to glorify the Southern cause. Honoring our dead from any war should be the standard and should not demonized. 

To long-term citizens of the Gainesville/Hall County area, Old Joe is more than just a statue to dead soldiers. During the horrific tornado of 1936, when everything around him was destroyed, Old Joe stood untouched and became a symbol of the fortitude of the people of Gainesville and their determination to rebuild the city better than before. I realize that newcomers to the area don't know our history and don't realize that to many a statue can mean more than what is readily apparent. 

On renaming military bases, you are erasing names of places from which many of our family members were trained and deployed. These places meant something to them. Changing the names will make following their history difficult. Most people couldn't name which bases were named for Confederates without looking it up. Changing the names is absurd. 

Our ancestors lived in a time that was very different from ours. Judging previous generations by today's standards is ludicrous. I wonder how future generations will judge us. 

Susan Shockley 


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