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Letter: Thinking of History In Real Time

To the Editor,

Letter writer Kiran Hampton asks if she is "the only one alarmed by the presence of high schools named after Confederate leaders?" ["Alarmed By School Names, Connection, April10-16, 2013]. In response, I would say, "Why yes, I believe she is."

History cannot nearly be understood in 20/20 hindsight. To understand that period of our nation's history you must examine and analyze the issues as if you were present during those times and not from the perspective of a person living a century and a half later. Obscured by today's political correctness is that the vast majority of people in the South at the time of the Civil War did not own slaves. In 1850, less than 6 percent of white Southerners owned slaves, leaving 94 percent who did not. To presume that some 800,000 young, white Southerners left their homes, families, and loved ones to risk their lives defending the rights of a small, wealthy minority ignores significant other issues, such as states' rights, that had not yet been settled in our nascent republic.

If Ms. Hampton would like to participate in a present day history naming issue, I would call her attention to the Navy's politically-motivated decision to name a ship after the late Congressman John Murtha. The amphibious transport dock ship, now being constructed and scheduled for commissioning in 2015, will be named after a person known for his very public pre-trial condemnation of the Marines involved in the Haditha incident during the Iraq war, as well as his own ethical issues while a member of Congress. Further, all other ships of the class are named for American cities.

As a matter of fact, I would like to see one of the area's new schools named after Lee's dependable corps commander James Longstreet, because he became a "reconstructed rebel," embracing equal rights for the newly freed blacks, unification of the nation and reconstruction.

Chris J. Krisinger

Colonel, USAF (Ret)