Educational Editorial: Teaching Confederate history

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- I grew up in Hanover County and I went to Battlefield Park Elementary School and Lee Davis High School. My great grandmother had canon balls around the bushes in her front yard.

I grew up respecting Generals Lee and Jackson. I had pride in the southern traditions and values…but am no less an American.

As young people listen to the rhetoric about whether or not Governor Bob McDonnell should have proclaimed confederate history month, what do we teach them?

Certainly they will learn that a strong Governor is quick to apologize for his mistakes. A failure to recognize and condemn slavery was both an oversight and a punctuated slap to those whose ancestors had experienced degradation at its worst.

Equally repulsive is to suggest that everyone who celebrates southern heritage condones the institution.

While the politics of slavery is well documented, it is also true that many who fought for the South were not fighting for slaves but for their independence -- a concept that they had known for slightly more than a hundred years.

Perhaps schools should also focus on the exchange that took place when General Robert E. Lee acknowledged to General Ulysses S. Grant that there should be no further blood shed.

Grant did not take his sword, but instead left the confederate soldiers with their lives and their arms. He treated them with respect. While the area Boy Scout Council dropped Robert E. Lee's name to make it less offensive, perhaps we should remind teachers of bravery and honor that the characteristics are not unique to those who have won.

While I am proud that we are "one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all", I am proud of those who fought for what they believed…and departed the field with honor…and I am no less an American.

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