Open Letter on the Confederate Memorial

Mr. Mayor and Honorable Members of Council:
Because the proposal to remove the Confederate Memorial at Court and High Streets appears to have ignited public passions across our community, I write to you in greater haste and with less explication than is my custom. I hope to readdress this matter at more length at a later date. For the moment, though, I wish to counsel proceeding slowly, carefully, and inclusively. With respect to the last of the three, you have an obligation to afford the public opportunities to express their views on the matter in formal council proceedings. Whatever other symbolism people may attach to the physical structure occupying that small patch of land in our downtown, it does have cultural and historical significance and has been a part of the fabric of Portsmouth history for better than half of our community’s existence. Fundamentally, it is a remembrance of men who gave their lives fighting for Virginia, albeit for a cause of dubious merit. Many, if not most, wars have been “causes of dubious merit”; yet, we in America have, nonetheless,  honored those who fell in battle, or because of it, since the earliest days of our republic. The dead soldiers commemorated were the fellow countrymen, and even family members, in some instances, of those who fought against them. Whatever we ultimately end up doing about this memorial, then, we need to proceed in a way that respects the sacrifice of those honored and the sensibilities of the community as a whole.
Please let me know if you need additional information.
Yours truly,
Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky

2 thoughts on “Open Letter on the Confederate Memorial

  1. Mark, the South Carolina judge at the recent bond hearing, attended by many of the victim’s families, prefaced the proceedings with a statement that the alleged shooter’s family are victims also. While truly compassionate human beings can understand his point, he was removed from the case because of the insensitivity it showed to the victim’s families and his history of being indifferent to black people. In Germany, though the Nazi Party was once the legitimate government of Germany and undeniably a part of that country’s history, public memorials honoring members of the Nazi Party and public display of the Swastika are prohibited. This is done primarily out of respect for that country’s Jewish citizens. I don’t think that anyone is calling for the demolition of historical artifacts related to our state and our nation’s history. We are saying that the current venue is inappropriate.

    Mark, my friend, having been acquainted with you for more than a decade, I can honestly say that you are by far one of the most consistent staunch supporters of human rights, equal rights and justice I have ever come to know. But, respectfully, the preservation and importance of maintaining historical artifacts in public venues shouldn’t trump my dignity.

  2. Instead of removing the Confederate monument, why not bring the monument for the USCT at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery to some prominent site downtown? Since it would involve moving a war monument, it should be worked out through the state’s Department of Historic Resources.

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