Mu­se­ums best place for memo­ri­als to evil

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - VIEWPOINTS -

Some sol­diers in all con­flicts do heroic things for each other: Nazis, Amer­i­cans, even Is­lamic State. My great-grandpa was a teenager when he and five broth­ers fought for the Con­fed­er­acy. Four were killed. Some of his wartime per­sonal items are in a frame by my bed.

Why? It re­minds me he and many oth­ers were brain­washed into be­ing will­ing to die to pro­tect sys­tem­atic hu­man ex­ploita­tion, in­clud­ing forced la­bor, tor­ture, rape and sell­ing away mem­bers of fam­i­lies. It re­minds me to learn from the past.

Should we keep mon­u­ments to this his­tory? Can they com­mem­o­rate sol­diers’ brav­ery without glo­ri­fy­ing evil prin­ci­ples they de­fended? Rem­nants of such sad his­tory be­long only in mu­se­ums and pri­vate col­lec­tions, where con­text and mean­ing are not eas­ily lost or hi­jacked. Jews in Ger­many are not forced to live un­der shad­ows of Nazi memo­ri­als. Nei­ther should any Amer­i­can have sym­bols of sad his­tory crammed in their faces. JACK BOWEN, FORT WORTH

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