Don't ignore toll of tobacco deaths

I've been following and fighting tobacco since my 1984-88 Alabama mayoral term. Regretfully, I must be the only one questioning the commentators of the first Democratic presidential debate with their "nicotine-stained-colored-tobacco-silence" as it blatantly escapes the justice of slaughtering 480,000 Americans annually without a debate question.

How many must die to stop marginalizing tobacco as it preys on our marginal? Tobacco wasn't racist yesterday, today or ever will discriminate. Tobacco, not "global warming or guns," rendered me fatherless at age 11 in 1964.

Mike Sawyer

Denver, Colo.

Public monuments are memorials

Confederate monuments were raised primarily in honor of the local veterans who never returned home, as most say to the "Confederate dead." Many have the cut-off stump or log, which is a funerary symbol for a life cut short. Communities have chosen to honor the politicians and generals of the Confederacy, such as the Capitol's Stonewall Jackson statue. Before 1877, most Confederate monuments were in the cemeteries, later appearing in public spaces.

The Monument Movement was not a Southern movement. It was a national movement as Northern states placed monuments to those that "defended the Union" and their generals. Dozens erected were up by 1870 in public spaces from the beginning.

The memorials served as a healing process of the nation. In both cases, ladies' associations, monument associations and veterans raised funds for the monuments.

"Stonewall" Jackson on the Capitol grounds is an individual connected to the state by his birth in Clarksburg. Stonewall was placed in 1910 at the original downtown Capitol. In response, the Mountaineer Monument was placed there in 1912. Even now the present capitol has three monuments to the Union and one to the Confederacy. There is one of Booker T. Washington, who in 1914 supported the Confederate Monument in Opelika, Alabama. Washington wrote in 1914 to Mamie A. Harrison of Rochester, New York, that "any monument that will keep the fine character of such heroes before the public will prove helpful to both races in the South." Washington's West Virginia schoolteacher, William H. Davis, was a cook in the 7th Independent Company of Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, who guarded Lincoln from 1863-1865.

Confederate monuments are community memorials They should be protected and not be judged on standards of 21st century thought, which was unlikely ever considered by the participants.

Ernest Everett Blevins, MFA

Commander, Robert S. Garnett Camp 1470

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Charleston

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