To the editor:
Florida is my adopted State-my year-round residence for more than a decade-and there's no other place I'd rather live. But I wish the fourth Monday in April never appeared on my calendar: the day the Florida Legislature, in 2007, decreed we should celebrate "Confederate Memorial Day" as an official State holiday. (The same date is also shared by the states of Alabama and Georgia.)
That's the day when I'm asked-along with nearly 20 million other Floridians-to put our selective memory into overdrive. The challenge: our brains face cognitive dissonance. In plain English"holding opposing views in your head and trying to make sense of it while maintaining your sanity."
I understand the desire to honor the memory of thousands of Confederate soldiers who died. Simultaneously, I recognize the evil cause for which they were fighting-a cause so abhorrent and dehumanizing (of both master and slave) that it can have no rational or moral defense.
I know the argument: Confederate soldiers showed extraordinary courage in battle, willing to die for a cause "greater than self." I get that. What I don't get is why Florida legislators decided this remains a cause to celebrate, to elevate this into a State holiday.
It induces historical amnesia about the fundamental reason the Confederacy chose to secede from the Union. And it makes it far too easy to transform the deaths of Confederate soldiers into a fight for a noble cause.
It wasn't a noble cause. It sought to perpetuate an economic and social way of life based on slavery, the alleged right of white masters to buy, own, use, abuse and sell black human beings.
Trying to separate the two realities is a fool's errand. Upwards of 700,000 deaths on both sides, Confederate and Union, was the price. The Union was preserved. The 13th Amendment ended legal slavery.
Confederate Memorial Day is, at best, an anachronism. We already have an accepted way of acknowledging those who sacrificed their lives in the Civil War and our other wars.
It's called Memorial Day.