To The Editor:

June 8, 2017, was the day the first Confederate memorial was removed from Forest Park. 

The removal of this statue cost $130,000. This money could undoubtedly be put to much better use, like providing more funding for schools, fixing roads, or even expanding our police departments. Why are we removing these statues? 

The people advocating the removal say the reasons are racism and hate. However, the people in opposition to the removal of the statues state that these statues are not racist; they don’t provoke hatred, they don’t represent a hateful cause, they preserve our nation’s history, and are a constant reminder of a time when our nation could not settle its differences. 

The fact is, the average man on the battlefield, laying down his life for the Confederacy, didn’t own slaves and didn’t have any intention to own them either. In fact, less than one-third of Confederates even owned slaves. 

The commander of the Confederate Army himself, Robert E. Lee, did not own slaves and even objected to slavery. He got rid of any slaves who his father had passed down to him. So, what is the purpose of removing these statues? 

Ask yourself if you believe that by somehow removing these statues that racism will end. I understand that there still is the factor that less than one-third of Confederates owned slaves. Some people hate the Confederacy for that or get offended by it, and I’m not telling them that they have to change their attitudes or beliefs toward the Confederacy.

I’m just asking them to consider this, while they and many more believe that the flag is offensive, many people also believe that the Rainbow flag is offensive. If we take down the Confederate flag because it offends people, then shouldn’t we take down the Rainbow flag as well? 

Confederate flags are being removed and banned from graves of former Confederate veterans. Should we remove and ban every Rainbow flag that is on a grave? One religion might get offended at the acts of another religion, but is that an excuse to totally ban a religion? 

As former Prime Minister of Isreal Golda Meir once said, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” 

The monument that is being removed is of a Confederate family with their son leaving to fight in the war. I have yet to understand what on the statue symbolizes racism. We cannot forget the 258,000 Confederate veterans and the 300,060 Union veterans who did not return home.

Even more, we cannot forget any American soldier who has sacrificed their life for our freedom, and we must always be grateful for the freedoms we have. 

The only reason we can debate the issue to take down or leave the Confederate monuments is because of the freedom given to us by every U.S. soldier.

      Austin Hellebusch, Concerned 14-Year-Old,

      Karen Powers, Parent, St. Clair