Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mr. Hale Goes to Austin

Jacob Hale testifying before
House Committee
(Courtesy of he Texas Tribune)
Jacob Hale thinks that Texas should be recognizing all who fought in the American Civil War. The eighth-grader wants the Lone Star State to change Confederate Heroes Day to Civil War Remembrance Day. Hale points out that many Texans were killed for supporting the Union and that "Confederate Heroes Day does not accurately represent history or all who fought in the Civil War."

Hale did more than write a class paper with his ideas. He took them to state representative Donna Howard from Austin.  Howard thought Hale's suggestion had merit and introduced a bill in the Texas House to replace Confederate Heroes Day with Civil War Remembrance Day. Howard also wanted to change the day from January 19 to the second Monday in May.  The date was originally selected to coincide with General Robert E. Lee's birthday.  The celebration was combined with the commemoration of Jefferson Davis' birthday in 1973. Since then the birthdays have become Confederate Heroes Day.

Donna Howard
Democrat, Austin
Representative Howard said, "I think it's ironic that we celebrate MLK [Martin Luther King] Day, where we're supposed to be celebrating racial progress and the fight for equality, but then also we have Confederate Heroes Day which acknowledges the men who fought for slavery as heroes." Howard told The Houston Chronicle in February that Hale wanted to create a historically accurate holiday that recognizes all who "were involved with that period of our history.

According to the Veterans Administration, several other Southern states commemorate the Confederate dead in the springtime, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

Howard's proposal was "met with resistance during a contentious hearing of the House Committee on Culture, Tourism and Recreation."
Rudy Roy told the House committee, "If we start trying to change the historical record for political reasons, we do great damage to our heritage. I'm sorry to say it this way, but we were not a Yankee state."  Hale countered that Confederate Heroes Day does not accurately represent history or all who fought in the Civil War. 

Let me congratulate Mr. Hale for advocating the proposed legislation. His desire is to be historically accurate not politically correct.  There were Union supporters in Texas especially among the German-American community.  One of Texas' greatest heroes, Sam Houston was opposed to secession. Houston rejected the actions of the Texas Secession Convention, believing it had overstepped its authority in becoming a member state of the newly formed Confederacy. He refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy and was deposed from office There were heroes on both sides of the conflict. Soldiers and civilians suffered greatly.  The fact that Texas was "not a Yankee state," should not enter into the discussion of how the 750,000 who died during the war should be recognized.  This is not about political correctness, but about historical accuracy. Historians must recognize that although Texas joined the Confederacy, 25% of her citizens opposed secession.  

Whether you agree with Mr. Hale and Representative Howard, their point of view should be respected. The behavior of others attending the House Committee meeting was hardly appropriate.  These forums should be conducted with dignity.  Shouting down a young man who had the fortitude to advocate a change is deplorable and does little to honor the memory of Confederate heroes.

Jacob learned valuable lessons in the political process.  Logic has very little to do with lawmaking. Government policy is often determined by those who shout the loudest.  Compromise is not part of legislative discussion in either Washington or Austin.

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