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LETTER: Reader urges Newton County commissioners to rethink action on statue
Letters - OPINION

Dear Editor,

After reading an editorial piece in The Covington News on September 25-26, 2021, by a local businessman, Bill Nash, it reminds me of other articles voicing similar opinions in the same newspaper, concerning the removal of the statue of the Confederate dead. Earlier in 2020, Mr. George S. Ellington, a Newton County native, whose ancestry included numerous relatives who fought and died during that tragic war, advocated creating monuments that would tell the “other side” of the story. A few weeks later, I also had published in the “News” the story of my great-grandfather Vause along with his three brothers, as young men, found the need to volunteer to fight for their newfound homeland in the wilderness of north Florida.

Mr. Nash reminds us that monuments and immovable art are to inspire us, recollect, educate, debate and remind us that each generation has its own heroes and flaws.

Reading an article in the Epoch Times of September 22-28, 2021, written by Ian Gentles, a professor of history and global studies at Tyndale University in Toronto, he quotes from T.S. Eliot’s poem “(Four) Quartets”: “Society is indeed a contract ... it is a partnership in all science, a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a ‘clause’ in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible with the invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the invisible oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place.”

Gentles also quotes from the book “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton: “The dead and the unborn are as much members of society as the living. To dishonor the dead is to reject the relation on which society is built — the relationship of the obligation between generations. Those who have lost respect for the dead have ceased to be trustees of their inheritance. Inevitably, therefore, they lose the sense of obligation to future generations. The web of obligations shrinks to the present.”

I am certain that there are many in this community that have similar opinions as Mr. Ellington, Mr. Nash and myself that would prefer to build bridges in the present to connect the past, present and future. Tearing down monuments of the dead will not erase history. I am asking the Newton County commissioners to rethink their actions and start building bridges that link all of us together rather than building walls that divide us.

Richard Garner