Lately there have been calls to rid America of confederate symbols and monuments, including statues of the Confederacy. I have lived in the North all my life. These symbols have no effect on me. I am not an African-American, I did not live in the South. So I don't believe I have any say in what happens to these symbols. The ones to make that decision are the ones most affected by them.
But I have heard calls of destroying the symbols of our Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. This I wholeheartedly disagree with.
Growing up, I had no idea that Washington or Jefferson had slaves. Honestly, I didn't really care about these long ago presidents. I called them dead white men, and was tired of hearing about only them in my history classes. I wanted to learn about world history, what life was like around the world for all people groups.
About 10 years ago my mom and I went on a tour of historic sites on the East Coast, including Washington, D.C., and Virginia. We visited Mount Vernon, Washington's home, and Monticello, Jefferson's home. I knew by then that Jefferson had slaves and had a relationship with a slave. But I don't think I knew about Washington.
This was a struggle for me, as by seeing these sites, seeing the battle grounds of Valley Forge, and learning more about the Revolutionary War, I had come to admire these two men. I couldn't fathom why they were slave owners, I thought they were better than that.
I don't honestly know what they were like as slave owners. All I know is that Washington was the general who won the Revolutionary War, and Jefferson was the one who penned the Declaration of Independence.
This affirms to me, yet again, that most people have good and bad in them. Washington and Jefferson were good presidents, just had bad thinking when it came to slavery. Like most other famous people, we cannot simply discard someone because they happen to do something or think something that we don't like. This doesn't take away the good things they dd. It's like that saying, "you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater."
It is so easy nowadays to quickly judge someone, anyone, based on one thing. But what we don't realize is that people's actions and ideas don't come out of thin air. They come through experiences, thoughts, emotions, and relationships. It is too easy to judge someone without thinking what it's like for them. History has evolved over time, so what we thought was OK back then we know now to be wrong.
Let us not forget the great accomplishments of our Founding Fathers. They chose to risk their lives to fight the tyranny of the British government. They could have taken it easy, and profited from trade with the British. But they chose to mark their own trail, to beat their own drum. They chose to take a chance on the impossible, and somehow made it possible. For that, their monuments should be a testament for all time.