Leave Camp Chase alone
Earlier in the week vandals secretly crept into the Camp Chase cemetery and desecrated a memorial put up for confederate soldiers. The act was disturbing and wrong on many levels.
On top of the list, any act of vandalism committed at a cemetery– whether it’s were one’s relative, friend, or confederate soldier is buried– is repulsive. Cemeteries are places of contemplation, peace, and sanctity. Political statements in such places have a history of being viewed as tasteless and out of place. I seriously doubt Dr. Martin Luther King would have ever considered desecration of a cemetery in order to demonstrate against improper treatment of minorities. In fact, I believe if he were alive today he would probably be appalled at what happened at Camp Chase, and would be trying to repair the damage.
Next, the cemetery at Camp Chase contains confederate soldiers who were POW(s). They died in prison here in Columbus after being captured. They deserved to be treated with a degree of care, and unfortunately, they were not. Many died in prison from the deplorable conditions, and were given wooden grave markers. Later, stone markers were added to the cemetery as a gesture of reconciliation.
The cemetery is intended to be a place of healing, forgiveness, and remembrance. It is a place Columbus has been entrusted with and it should be treated with reverence. The vandalism committed violated that trust, and violated the peaceful intentions behind the cemetery’s purpose.
Further, the act of vandalism did nothing to prove any point regarding confederate monuments. The damaged monument in the cemetery was not of any famous person who participated in the civil war. It was simply an average soldier, similar to many of the soldiers buried at Camp Chase.
I suspect the folks who committed the desecration at Camp Chase were young people who acted on emotion, and lacked the wisdom that age affords us. They just reacted and acted, we have all been there, especially in our youth. So, if that is the case, they deserve a degree of forgiveness, and they should attempt to undo the damage.
On the other hand…
Knock ’em down
I grew up on the Westside about two streets from Camp Chase. As kids, we never really made a big deal about the old confederate cemetery, but we didn’t like it either. We understood that it was part of American History, but we didn’t respect the cemetery because it was a confederate cemetery. The vandalism of the Camp Chase cemetery didn’t surprise me because the West Side is very racially diverse. There are a lot of people who probably didn’t realize what the cemetery was until recently.
Being African-American, slavery is an embarrassing part of our past. Having monuments around the nation that glorify the generals from the confederacy is hurtful and disrespectful to many in the black community.
I’ve often wondered why there aren’t statues of Hitler around the United States? He lost the war, and he’s a significant part of American History. The answer is because of what Hitler represents and it would be very hurtful to the Jewish community to have his statue as a reminder to them. This is the correct response with respect to the Jewish community. I just wish that the issue of the confederate statues could be looked at in this manner for us African-Americans.
We are not trying to be divisive or anti-American history by lobbying against confederate statues. We just want our feelings regarding that time of our history to be respected. The history books will always reflect those years as they were. This part of history will be taught in grade school into college and beyond, just like the holocaust. But to glorify those who supported and fought for slavery with statues is callous and disregards the damage this caused to a whole race.