VOICES: Civil war left ‘last full measure of devotion’

The Civil War Soldiers Monument was relocated in 1948. “As it reached the ground, the 9 1/2 ft. statue was literally mobbed,” reported the Dayton Daily News. “The intersection of Main Street and Monument Avenue was one mass of people, all striving to get in close for a look or a picture.” DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
The Civil War Soldiers Monument was relocated in 1948. “As it reached the ground, the 9 1/2 ft. statue was literally mobbed,” reported the Dayton Daily News. “The intersection of Main Street and Monument Avenue was one mass of people, all striving to get in close for a look or a picture.” DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest opinion column by Dirk Q. Allen appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Friday, Oct. 16. Allen is a community contributor.

Some years ago, before the turn of the century, I told a friend of mine that flying the Confederate battle flag, the Stars and Bars, was like waving a red cape in front of a bull.

A week or so later, she sent me a column that referred to the Confederate flag as “culture and history.”

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Dirk Q. Allen
Dirk Q. Allen

In a museum, it’s culture and history. Today, in the national community, it’s still like waving a red cape in front of a bull. And, at this point in our country, it’s a bit like being deliberately antagonistic.

Don’t get me wrong – the Civil War is fascinating history.

My great-grandfather, a Union cavalry officer, was apparently riding away from the Confederates one day when his hat blew off.

He wheeled his horse to go back for it and when a few bullets whistled past him, decided that the better part of valor was to get a new hat!

I don’t remember anyone talking about the “Lost Cause” when I was in school, but I do recall the cause of the war being explained as “state’s rights,” with slavery a secondary issue. Of course, in the South, slavery was the reason state’s rights were important.

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As one of my colleagues would put it simply, Confederate battle heroes were simply “traitors.”

Explain them in the history books and put them in the museums or the battlefield parks, but their time on the main thoroughfares of 21st century America has probably come to an end.

Peaceful protestors, however, do leave people perplexed when they become unruly mobs and decide that statues of Washington or Lincoln or Grant need to join the Confederate heroes in the dustbin of history.

So many people were men of their times – good men, brave men – who put their lives on the line for the country that is now the United States of America. We can impose our attitudes on that era, but that does not represent the era in which they lived.

These, and so many others, were not perfect men. This country has been morphing for 240-plus years. It was not perfect then and it is not perfect today. But it is better; and it continues to get better. They had an idea, and we support the idea. Revisionist history can’t undo that truth.

Some years ago, I was wandering around the Civil War battlefield cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in a steady drizzle. It was a soft rain, and the headstones were perfectly aligned.

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I have been to a lot of Civil War battlefields during my life: Chattanooga, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Shiloh, Perryville, Fort Donelson, Franklin, Vicksburg even, west of the Mississippi River, Pea Ridge and Arkansas Post.

But it is the scene at Murfreesboro, obviously, that I haven’t forgotten. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the sight of so many tombstones for those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” for a nation that still endures. Thanks for that devotion.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

FUNK GIANT IS ONLY SLEEPING - Wanda Meritt, Dayton

Every time I see the sleeping giant awakening on the Arcade building downtown, I am reminded of its twin giant that also needs to be awakened: the Dayton Funk Museum.

Dayton was known as the “Funk Capital of the World.” The musicians came from all over the city. The museum should be located in the heart of downtown Dayton.

The museum would be a star attraction. It would be a financial asset and bring in much needed revenue from tourists and visitors.

Additionally, if its located in one of the buildings next to the Arcade, security would already be on site.

It was my great please to visit the museum the short time it was open. It was well worth the time and money spent for admission.

What can Dayton’s leadership do to wake up this “Twin Giant?”

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Dirk Q. Allen is a former opinion page editor of the Hamilton Journal-News. He is a community contributor. Community contributors are people who frequently submit fact-based guest columns.

Letters to the Editor are submitted reflections from readers of 150 words or less. Letters to the editor should be sent to edletter@Coxinc.com. Please include a daytime phone number, your full name and the city in which you reside.

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