Letters: Celebrate Union heritage

Johnson City Press • Apr 28, 2018 at 6:00 AM

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Celebrate Union heritage

In East Tennessee, many of our forefathers fought for the Union. This oft-forgotten history has recently been revived by the Daughters of Union Veterans, as well as Democratic candidate Karl Dean, who recently honored his own Unionist ancestors in Hawkins County. And, perhaps most controversially, Memphis took down its Confederate statues, an action for which it was recently punished by our state legislature.

Some say that taking down Nathan Bedford Forrest’s statue erases the past, but perhaps such statues themselves are a form of erasure. After the Greenville Convention and the Free State of Scott, after the Lowry War, Elihu Embree’s Emancipator, and other abolitionists’ regional rebellion against the rest of the South, the Confederacy and its Daughters came to stay. And the statues they built tell only one side of the story.

To much of the mountain South, the Confederates were cruel masters, rather than the mythic rebels they have become to some. In Shelton Laurel, Limestone Cove, and other small towns across the former State of Franklin, the Confederate Home Guard massacred men suspected of fighting for the Union, what would now be considered war crimes. Thirteen-year-old David Shelton died begging for his life. Forrest himself similarly executed black soldiers after they surrendered. The underdogs of 1865 in many cases wore not gray, but blue. And, much as some choose to see the stars and bars as simply a symbol of the South, our own Southern heritage shows this to be a lie.

The stars and bars have been a symbol of prejudice since Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech, even before Nathan Bedford Forrest donned his first white hood. And our Unionist heritage — what’s really worth celebrating — is so much more than hate. Men like Forrest belong in a museum, not on a pedestal.

Johnson City

Thanks for the book, stranger

Two Sundays ago, I experienced a very generous random act of kindness.

My husband and I went to Jason’s Deli for lunch after church. When I noticed a gentleman next to us reading a book, I asked him the name of the author and title. He told me and we continued eating.

When he finished, he laid the $28 book on our table, saying he had finished reading it and the book was all mine.

He left before I could get his name or thank him adequately, so wherever you are, the book was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Johnson City

Return of the champs

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came out to support the 1998 Science Hill Baseball State Champs. The turnout was spectacular! Seeing old friends and forging new friendships will always be something I remember.

Much thanks to the planning committee for making it so enjoyable for everyone. It takes a lot of organizing to get people together, so I certainly appreciate all those who contributed to this great event. I appreciate the time, effort and thoughtfulness of all who were involved. The joy of reuniting with 1998 state champ players, their beautiful families and the former coaches was more than I expected. The food was superb, the decorations, the T-shirts, the memories folder, and the team pictures were just all perfectly planned out.

I would like to extend my gratitude as well to Assistant Coach Andy Wallen for his pursuit in contacting all players and coaches from the team of 1998. Also thanks to Head Coach Ryan Edwards, Assistant Coach Tim Vanthornout, and the entire Science Hill family for supporting this event. The dedicated people who serve in the Topper booster clubs are to be commended for the sharing of their resources and time to remember the state championship team of 1998.

Again, my thanks to all involved for their participation. I’m so happy to have been a part of such a special day.

Johnson City

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