"Peace at the End of the Civil War"
Panel from the Rotunda of the United States Capitol
Symbolizes and end to recrimination and bitterness and a resolve to live together in peace and mutual respect
The Arkansas Civil War Memorial is here to memorialize the heroic veterans of the American Civil War who lived, fought, or died in the State of Arkansas and perpetuate their legacy of honor regardless of their political affiliations.
As a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans I am informed of an attack on the memories of Civil War veterans nearly day. These attacks are widespread and varied. I have seen stores refuse to carry the small Confederate flags that are used to mark graves, I have seen cemeteries refuse to allow flags to be placed, I have seen a Christian church refuse to allow memorial services over Confederate graves, I have seen descendants fired from their jobs for having a license plate on their car, Confederate reenactors have been disinvited on the very day of parades. We also see veteran's memorials targeted for removal, we see them abandoned and allowed to deteriorate in the hope that they will just melt away. We see unrelenting newspaper and magazine articles and opinion columns deriding the memory of our ancestors and portraying them as inhuman. Descendants who speak out or attempt to mount a defense are automatically accused of racism. The world's largest civil rights organization has specifically resolved to erase all Confederate related symbols from the universe. Yes, the universe. They do not just disagree with the legacy of the Confederate veteran, they have resolved to eliminate all vestiges of it.
Union descendant organizations, such as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) do not face direct attacks from a hostile force. Their enemy is public apathy and it is just as dangerous, if not more so. They face a declining membership, financial difficulties, and a public that has little concept of what their ancestors accomplished. We have innumerable Union veteran's grave markers being sold as antiques on the internet. The Confederate veteran, regardless of the status of his symbols, will always be remembered as a rebel whereas the Union veteran seems to be on course to fade off into the mist.
The situation in Arkansas is pretty grim. Membership for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Arkansas is appallingly low as compared to other southern States despite the fact that Arkansas's contribution of troops to the Confederacy was extremely high per capita. Membership in the SUVCW in Arkansas is almost non-existent despite the fact that Arkansas provided more troops for the Federal government than any other southern State except Tennessee! We are not preserving the legacy of our forefathers.
Arkansas is touted as a Civil War tourist destination yet the quality of our battlefields, parks, and historical markers is low. Much of the limited work being done to preserve Civil War history in Arkansas is being done by a few hardy individuals who donate their time and sweat. The public remembers not.
If you are reading this you probably have some interest in the Civil War in Arkansas or you are the descendant of a Union or Confederate soldier who is seeking out information on that veteran. If so, I urge you to contact one of the descendant organizations and join today. It's not expensive, and it will only take up as much time as you choose to commit. You don't have to be a reenactor and you don't have to be a historian or Civil War expert. The membership of these organizations consists of people from all walks of life, doctors, lawyers, factory workers, retail clerks, highway workers, retired military, and software engineers. If you have an interest in preserving this historical legacy then you are desperately needed.
If you are interested in preservation or are just a history buff but are not descended from a veteran, there are organizations such as the Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trail and The Civil War Roundtable that do interesting and useful things and are also desperately seeking Arkansans to participate. I would urge you to contact one of these organizations.
If you are unable to participate in an organized way you can still help. Don't let Union veterans be given short shrift on Veteran's Day, attend the David O. Dodd Memorial held in Little Rock each January as a spectator, write your Governor, State Representative, and national representatives and let them know that historical preservation is important. Most importantly speak out against hate groups that misuse historical symbols and speak out against the political correctness that is handing those symbols over to them for their exclusive use.
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Copyright© 1997,1999 by Edward G. Gerdes, Jonesboro, Arkansas. All commercial rights reserved. The above information may be used for non-commercial historical and geneological purposes only and with the consent of the page owner may be copied for the same purposes so long as this notice remains a part of the copied material.