Letter – Confederate soldiers did not have a choice

Published 8:36 am Tuesday, July 27, 2021

To the Editor:

I am responding to your editorial rant of July 21 about the Confederate statue.

I especially take issue with what you said about Confederate soldiers, “How long are we required to honor Confederate soldiers who, at the very best, made a poor choice?”

If you’ve ever served in the military — I’m assuming you have not —you would know that soldiers never have a choice. Wars are started by bureaucrats, diplomats, politicians and generals. Soldiers do the fighting. They fight for many reasons:

• They believe in the cause they are fighting for.

• They believe in doing their duty to their country.

• They are drafted.

• They want to protect those they love.

These are the general reasons. Allow me to address only the first, as it pertains to the Civil War. Not every farmer in southside Virginia, or anywhere in the south, owned or held slaves. Not every farmer supported the idea of holding other humans as slaves. Most dirt farmers, those who became the foot soldiers to the politicians and generals, just wanted to save their homes and families. They starved, suffered and died mostly for those they loved, not some cause fought over by people in their legislatures who had no idea they existed.

When it comes to the battlefield, a place I hope you never have to experience, a soldier tries just to save himself and his fellow soldiers. It comes down to that. And it takes all the courage in the world to hear an army or a mortar coming and not run.

Those dead men in the Confederate Cemetery died honorably and bravely. The cause may not have been “just,” but neither was the cause in Vietnam, which took the lives and limbs of thousands of soldiers, most of whom did not want to be there.

The dead men in the Confederate Cemetery deserve to be honored as we have honored all the dead in all the wars, not because what they fought for was just and honorable, but because they died doing their duty. They were good soldiers. We should honor them.

Let the statue join them in that quiet place where they rest. At least there, a place you and others will never go, it will be out of your sight and that of others who still consider their service to have been a “poor choice.”

Eunice Carwile