Letter: Edward J. Kiley, Leesburg

Editor:   Since Charlottesville we have seen destruction, removal and desecration of Civil War monuments acknowledging and celebrating the Confederacy; including here in Loudoun County, where I’ve lived for forty years. There’s a better way.

We cannot erase history; that’s a waste of time and effort. What we can do is make history relevant and instructive. The statue on the Court House grounds is a generic statue, constructed in the early 1900s and there are many in the South. Actually, the same statue dressed as a Union soldier proliferate Court House greens in the North. Representing our second Civil War (examine the Revolutionary War, particularly in South Carolina and New Jersey if you would like to know more about the first Civil War) these monuments are part of history and should not be removed. Rather they should be put in proper context.

During the Civil War a substantial part of Loudoun County remained Unionist. In fact a unit called the Loudoun Rangers was the only unit inducted into the Union Army from a seceded state. A number of African Americans from Loudoun County fought and some died for the Union. They are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery. What we need in Loudoun is recognition and understanding of history, and not celebration of it on whatever side our sympathies lay.

Loudoun has already erected, after the Confederate soldier, monuments to the fallen in WWI, WWII, and Viet Nam and most recently a monument commemorating the Revolutionary War. It’s time to acknowledge the rest of our history, by erecting a monument to the Loudoun Rangers and those African Americans from Loudoun who served their country. Monuments remind us and make us think and keep things in perspective. Tearing them down creates a void. As Harry Truman once wisely said, “The only history we don’t know is that which we haven’t studied.”

Edward J. Kiley, Leesburg

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