Tuesday, July 15, 2014

434. Garfield Park Confederate Monument

     I come from a long line of Yankees. Not one of my direct ancestors, as far as I can discover, lived any further south than Noble County, Ohio. Very few of my distant cousins did either. I have found nearly 30 Civil War soldiers in my family, all of them wore the Union blue.
     All of the above is by way of establishing my bona fides before I comment on the page A4 feature article in the Indianapolis Star this past Sunday.
     First a little history: Indianapolis was the site of a Civil War POW prison called Camp Morton. Many of the Confederate soldiers held there died during their incarceration, and they were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery downtown. That cemetery was eliminated in the early 20th century, and the Confederates remaining there (some burials had been claimed by Southern families) were moved to Crown Hill.
     A large memorial placed at Greenlawn in 1912 was moved to Garfield Park on the south side in 1928. I don't know why the soldiers went north and the memorial went south. Anyway that memorial is in need of restoration, and the local Sons of the Confederate Veterans group want to help Indy Parks do that. This action is apparently controversial; you know-the Stars and Bars and slavery and all that.
     As a Unionist and a genealogist and an historian, my take is that you can't rewrite history, and you can't deny descendants from honoring their ancestors. If my great-grandfather had fought for the Gray, and I wanted to honor his service by placing a marker for him, I would be really torqued if someone said I couldn't do that.
     Just being on the "wrong" side of history doesn't make the average participant invisible or a sinner. Do we hate all the Native Americans who killed our relatives? Do we hate the Tories who opposed Washington's troops? Do my ancestors hate the folks on the other side of the Battle of the Boyne?
     So anyway, I say let their descendants honor their Confederate ancestors, even though they are up here in Yankee country. If you are a Southerner by ancestry and want to donate money to help, look up the Star article on line. And that's my position on that.

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you Ron. My ancestors on my fathers side were all in the Confederate side. One was in 5th Virginia Calvary and several were prisoners of war being nabbed by the Unions at Petersburg. I at one time was a member of the Sons of the Confederate. One of their activities was to locate and preserve their ancestors graves which I felt was very honorable.

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  2. Ron I have to agree with you on this. My father's side all were from Virginia thus all were with the Confederate side. My great-great uncle was in the Virginia 5th Calvary. Several of my great-great-grandmothers family were captured at Petersburg and stayed in prison camp rest of the war. My mother branch in Florida were also in the Confederate Army as well. I have seen that memorial in Garfield and wonder the same question. I at one time was a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and one of their activities was to honor their ancestors graves a very worthwhile activity.

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