“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” _Martin Luther King Jr.
I am fortunate to have friends who remind me that silence speaks volumes. It is because of them that I write this about a community where people that I love, live. I was raised in Palmyra, Missouri, a community that honors the Confederacy with a statue of a confederate soldier in front of the county courthouse.
Many, but not all, Missourians were southern sympathizers during the US Civil War. The states’ rights issue was slavery. The south lost that war and slavery was made illegal. During the Jim Crow era of the last century, organized southerners made a concerted effort to glorify the South. They tried to reframe the ownership of another human as a states’ rights issue. Numerous statues, similar to the one standing in front of the Marion Co. Courthouse of Palmyra, Missouri, were erected. They are being removed as folks consider what they represent. Palmyra was the site of a horrible war crime, the execution of 12 Confederate soldiers because of the killing of a Union sympathizer. The story should be told, but it shouldn’t glorify the cause of taking up arms against the government for the right to own, use and abuse another human being. We should examine the stories that tell our history and ask if they represent who we are. I think it’s time to remove the statue and share the war crimes and other stories through the historical museum.
In preparation for a painting, “Along the Way”, which was exhibited in 2018 in Hannibal, MO, I learned for the first time about The March of Death. That section of the painting is shown in the top image of this article. In the 1830s the Pottawatomie were forced marched by a private militia from their Indiana home to Kansas in late fall. They passed through Palmyra. Forty children and many adults died en route. It’s one of many stories we should hear, not all of them immoral tales. How we tell them and what we glorify, matters.