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LETTER: Don't cancel out history, learn from it
0705 CovNews Statue
The 116-year-old Confederate memorial statue is a centerpiece of the park in the middle of the Covington Square. - photo by Tom Spigolon

Dear Editor:

After reading the editorial piece by Mr. Ellington in The Covington News, Aug. 8-9, 2020, I find that I have similar views and background.  I have been a taxpayer and resident of Newton County for over 40 years. As I understand the existing statue in question was erected there in 1906 by a group of women that took several years to get it done.  The statue was to commemorate the memory of those men and boys who died in this tragic War Between the States.

The majority of the men and boys that fought for the Confederate States were poor or middle class; farmers; merchants; ranchers; fisherman; wage earners, etc., who owned no slaves.  Those men and boys that answered their States beckoning call thought they were doing the right thing.

As for my history, my great, great grandfather and his family on my mother’s side left Darlington County, South Carolina, in the mid-1800s and settled in the wilderness of North Florida.  My great grandfathers on my father’s side were already there having moved there many years earlier.  My great grandfathers on my father’s side were apparently older men and were not involved in the battle.

My great grandfather and his three brothers on my mother’s side would soon find themselves embroiled in a useless war of secession.  The oldest would volunteer at Wakulla County, Florida, at the age of 20 leaving behind three younger brothers, approximately two years apart in age of each other. 

My great grandfather, being the second oldest, at the age of 19 volunteered to serve to be with his older brother.  Two more would volunteer later, and the youngest was 17 at the time.  The first three fought at Stones River in Tennessee where the oldest was wounded and later died.  He is buried in a mass grave near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

During Sherman’s March through Atlanta, the two older siblings were captured by the Union Army, one near Kennesaw and the other near Chattanooga.  They were both sent to Camp Douglas in Illinois.  The youngest was later captured near Nashville and sent to prison there.  They all survived prison life and when my great grandfather was released he joined the United States Army as a scout for wagon trains going to Texas.  They all returned to North Florida to be with family.

I agree with Mr. Ellington, we need to tell the other side of the story and honor the great leaders of the descendants of slavery in this community and this nation.  Our history lessons should include the whole story and not just a partial story.  I’m thankful that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement showed us how peaceful protest accomplished great things. Destruction, violence and hate is not the answer.  We don’t cancel out history, we learn from history.

Richard Garner