This is letter I sent to the Fayette County, GA, Board of Commissioners and to "The Citizen" newspaper.
I am a citizen of Fayette County and an Air Force veteran with more than 20 years service to this country. I am opposed to the Fayette County Board of Commissioners recognizing April 26 as “Confederate Memorial Day,” and the month of April as “Confederate History and Heritage Month.”
I was reared in the South until college graduation at age 22. I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the Confederacy. In grammar school, during assembly, we sang songs from the southern side of the Civil War: "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "The Bonny Blue Flag," “Dixie,” and others of that ilk.
On May 10, which was Confederate Memorial Day in North Carolina, we were dismissed from school to walk to the Courthouse where we decorated a Confederate Monument with flowers. (This, of course, applied to the white schools. Integration, although ordered by the Supreme Court before this, was not implemented until at least 12 years later.)
After the ceremony at the Confederate Monument, the Children of the Confederacy (of which, of course, I was a member, having a great-great grandfather who died in Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg) went to the home of the docent of society for cookies and punch. No, we were not marked absent or tardy from school.
I was a Distinguished Military Graduate from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, which, I learned, was created first as a garrison to house the young men of Charleston, SC, following a slave uprising.
I learned the (possibly apocryphal) story that the first shot in the "War of Northern Aggression," as the elders of my family described it, was fired by cadets from The Citadel under the command of a man who was said to have been a relative.
I learned that my paternal grandfather had been a member of an organization that was a front for the Ku Klux Klan.
I learned about segregation at an early age, but that's another story.
History must be preserved. While those who do not remember history may not be doomed to repeat it, those who do learn from history will certainly annihilate them. It is far past time to relegate the history of the confederacy and the civil war to textbooks, and not in flags that fly from pickup trucks, not around bonfires where stand men in white robes and hoods, and certainly not in the chambers of the Fayette County Commissioners.
Paul Lentz, Peachtree City
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.