Friday, August 18, 2017

A fitting result for would-be Confederate memorial on South Side

The national stink over removing all those statues erected across the South to pay tribute to the leaders of the one-time Confederate States is taking on a unique Chicago angle.
They rest in a changed neighborhood and under a U.S. flag. How appropriate for old Confederates

I’m talking about the statue that exists at the Oak Woods Cemetery in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. It marks the spot known as Confederate Mound, which actually is a mass grave for thousands of prisoners of war during the Civil War who were shipped to Chicago, held here and wound up dying here without ever seeing their native South again.

MANY OF US probably don’t realize that the one-time Camp Douglas in Chicago wound up being a prison camp for those southern sympathizers whom U.S. interests wanted held in as remote a place from the actual fighting of the Civil War as possible.

That, and the fact there were business interests based in Chicago that sold the goods to the U.S. military that kept the war going, are the local connections to that long-ago conflict over secession that some of us seem determined to want to revive.

Because those men died here, their remains wound up being buried here. They were denied what they most likely would have desired – a return trip home.

It’s not like we have individual graves paying tribute to those men who were willing to fight for the concept of splitting the United States in two – even though many of them probably had no personal interest in such a concept.

WHICH IS WHY I personally don’t get too worked up over this memorial. It’s a grave marker – as opposed to the statues paying tribute to Lee, Davis, Longstreet or any of the others who had leadership roles in the attempt at creating a new nation based on the concept of white supremacy.

Which is why certain people of today are more than eager to refight its battles – they likely do carry a distorted view of what the Confederacy was and think it somehow legitimizes their own racial nonsense.
Another Oak Woods resident who in life shot down the racial ideals the Confederates held
Which also is why Trump is providing aid and comfort to that twisted element of our society when he talks about "the beautiful statues" that are being removed.

But let’s be honest – the Confederate attempt at creating a constitution bore some similarities to what the United States had at the time. But it included provisions ensuring the continued existence of slavery based on race.

THERE WERE THOSE men who gave their lives maybe because they thought they were fighting to protect their homes. But also because their leaders were protecting their rights to keep other humans enslaved for physical labor.

It may have been an economic issue. But not really.

So for those men who died in prison camp conditions, many due to small pox and cholera, their time in life was miserable enough. But I wonder if their “eternal rest” is something that would disgust them even more.

Because the Grand Crossing neighborhood, like much of the rest of Chicago’s South Side, has undergone a significant change in composition. It’s majority African-American, and most people living there now don’t have a clue that white people ever used to call their homes home. Which creates the oddity of a Confederate grave in a black neighborhood.

AND IN A cemetery that contains, amongst others, the remains of one-time Mayor Washington, Olympic athlete Jesse Owens and Ida B. Wells, who during life campaigned against the practice of lynching.
A front page worth framing?!?

In fact, Oak Woods has become known as a cemetery where many African-American people wish to be buried. If there is an after-life, I’m wondering if those wretched old souls are complaining about the “neighbors” their earthly remains now have.

So as far as whether the grave market depicting a southern infantry soldier with crossed arms ought to be removed, I question whether it’s worth the hassle. Having that marker where it is serves as a reminder of just how out-of-place the whole Confederate cause truly is in our society.

Considering how repulsive that cause and what it truly stood for was, maybe it’s all the more appropriate.


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