Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Confederate History Month

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has come under fire in recent days for issuing a proclamation declaring April as Confederate History Month in the state. McDonnell said the move was made to "promote the study of our history" and "encourage tourism" in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The proclamation which has reopened some deep wounds, is causing a stir because it was quietly posted on Gov. Bob McDonnell's web site on Friday and made no mention of slavery.

The proclamation was first made in 1997 - thirteen years ago - by Virginia's republican governor at the time George Allen.

While I find it a little troubling that is needs to be called Confederate History Month, I can certainly understand the rationale behind using the states history as a means to "promote the study of history" and "encourage tourism." Why can't it just be "Civil War History Month" or "Virginia Heritage Month"? Allen's successor another Republican - continued the practice the next year, but added anti-slavery language to the decree. Gilmore also later changed the name of the month to "Virginia's Month of Remembrance of the Sacrifices and Honor of All Virginians Who Served in the Civil War."

McDonnell has since apologized for the omission and has even amended the proclamation by adding the following:
"It is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from his painful part of our history..."
Whether he made the change because he thought it was the right thing to do or because politically, it was the right thing to do, I am just glad he did it. Now, he is honoring the sacrifices made by all during the course of the Civil War and the years that led up to it, not just those on the Confederate side.

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