How quickly we forget the lessons of history! With the Kansas City Star’s recent hit-piece against the Confederate Battle Flag hanging along side the Federal Flag at the Dirty Shame Saloon (located on the privately held Platte County Fair Grounds), we’re concerned that bullying and coercion may once again be rearing it’s ugly head. And it’s not just here in Platte County, but everywhere across the state (and beyond). From the Missouri Battle Flag being removed at Lexington, to discussion of relocating Confederate monuments in St. Louis and Boone County Missouri, one group seems intent upon forcing their will upon those of another.
And while we want to be sensitive to the concerns some may have about the Confederate Battle Flag, or Confederate symbols – we need to realize that many different people groups who currently live together in America could have serious issue with other popular symbols or beliefs. Take the American Indians, who were forced from their lands and in some cases pushed to near extinction. What would they say about popular flags, symbols, monuments or beliefs many Americans hold dear? Or the Japanese American who was placed involuntarily into prison camps on American soil during World War II? Or the approximately 65,000 Americans who were involuntarily sterilized during the 1920’s and 30’s? Some may even say that the millions of unborn, whose futures continue to be wiped from existence, would certainly have much to say – if only they could be allowed a voice. Flags and other symbols have different meanings to different people. Should everything ultimately be banned? Or should we simply learn how to work together in our communities, and peacefully get along with others – even if they may believe or value something different?
The fact is that most families in Platte County during the “Civil War” did not fight to oppress others, but to protect their home and community from invasion and aggression. As Missouri was placed under martial law early in the war, many Platte County people were disenfranchised, had their property confiscated, sent to prison without trial and often executed on the spot. As such, we’re a bit disappointed that the American Legion or Daughters of the American Revolution haven’t stood up for these American veterans and their families who served during this horrific conflict. It would be unthinkable for these organizations to advocate or remain silent if World War II, Vietnam veterans, or Revolutionary era landmarks and figures were given unsavory labels and their monuments or symbols forced from public eye. Yet they do remain silent as veterans and their families from America’s unCivil War are attacked, marginalized and “cleansed” from the public.
It took a long time for our communities to heal after the War Between the States. However, Platte County did slowly mend the wounds caused by this catastrophic event which some believe may have claimed the lives of around 1 million Americans (including women and children). They learned the terrible cost that comes with the use of force, coercion and bullying. Maybe it’s time we do the same?
If you’d like to know more about the history of Platte County during the “Civil War”, you might enjoy obtaining a copy of Platte County History Illustrated. It’s based on the first-hand observations of William Paxton, a resident of Platte City who witnessed Platte City burned twice by the Union Army – as well as interactions with General David Hunter of Ft. Leavenworth, a man who threatened to lay waste to the county, and “damned” the constitution when it was suggested he had no constitutional authority to do so.
For further reading, please see:
(Note: The Kansas City Star article referenced was published July 22, 2015: “Confederate Flag issue rises again at Platte County Fair”, by Matt Campbell.)