I am one who read the Harvard Gazette's past article concerning the possibility of a Civil War Memorial being erected at Harvard University, one that will "list the names of alumni who served in the forces of the Confederate Army." It provoked me to send a letter urging an endorsement of it.
Mainly, I wrote because I was so inspired by this unifying, much belated approach to those who are as much a part of Harvard University as any present student or employee. Not only are they a part of Harvard, but they are indelibly woven into the fabric of our often referred to "American quilt."
One of the unique things about this country is that we are supposed to be able to get have our differences but get along. The general rule is "no one person or group's opinion gets to negatively and divisively overpower another's in our society." At the end of each day, in a peacetime America, we should say a prayer and make a wish for "what's best for all Americans today, not yesterday." Yesterday is gone, so we've only tomorrow on which to build on.
Anyone who continues the "cause" of division and intolerance on any side of an issue is as guilty as the antagonist who may have started it and passed it on to us. We have seen where that leads in this country and around the world. Debates and panel discussions are good until they seek to exclude.
That road leads to generational division and intolerance on a never-ending scale. I don't know about you, but as a Virginia-born American veteran whose ancestors defended their families, their land and their states, I personally don't want this argument to go on and on. I don't want my kids to look forever through the murky prism of "one color knows best."
Surely one race doesn't know best. That is not the legacy I am going to leave them. They are going to admire good people, pray for bad people and help when they possibly can. There won't be perfection in my family, but we will contribute to the betterment of the country as a whole, not in parts.
If we continue to call upon the past to endorse things and desires that divide us as a nation, this country will be doomed. We have too much untapped potential because this approach continues to be used and unfortunately finds success from time to time. I have no problem with it finding an audience, but I am concerned that it tears at our nation's chances of successfully dealing with the multitude of life and death issues in America--crises like health care, the reduction of educational opportunities for this generation and beyond, crime and the creation of jobs.
It is my fervent hope that God will grant the actual deciders on whether or not this new memorial will honor Harvard's own the strength to be bridge builders with the past and the present--not to be those who enjoin with others so as to validate the tactics of division on Harvard property.
As a moral leader around the globe, it is imperative that Harvard act in a unifying manner, not just preach it. After all, these same alumni are Americans who have millions of post-Civil War era descendants that have led or lead noble lives helping others. Harvard should embrace the future and not allow the long gone past, or those who still live in it, to hold back progress.
This is a test for Harvard University; whether or not it will light the way in these sometimes dark times, or extinguish Hope's flame! So that a community of many can fix what in the past only a few were called on or allowed to do. --Andrew James Kluttz
The author is a Harvard security guard.