Before you read this column, please understand that I am a Southerner, Georgia born and bred.
I have also lived in several other places and in Germany. And I understand how symbols can ignite emotions.
I believe, however, that there are differences between acknowledging history and deliberately trying to make people feel inferior.
Apparently, waving the Confederate battle flag is intended to remind some people that their ancestors were once slaves.
Slavery was not born in the South; it had existed in many areas for millennia. That does not and should not make it acceptable, then nor now.
Unfortunately, the agrarian economy of colonial southern states depended upon human laborers, which came to mean slave labor; also unfortunately, the sharecropper and tenant farming systems which replaced it were not substantially better.
Although slavery was legally eliminated, the underlying attitude that slaves were inherently inferior was not eliminated.
The fact is that the African people who were snatched from their homes were simply from a different culture, not necessarily an inferior one.
Leaders of the Confederacy and most of the ordinary citizens were pledging allegiance and defending what they considered their culture, their way of life.
Almost all of them, sooner or later, realized that it was, indeed, better that the Union prevailed and that we are a United States rather than two nations living in this "sea to shining sea" area , as North-South are now doing on the Korean Peninsula.
And I hope that most of them would have soon realized that slavery in any form is immoral.
To those who insist that we must "take America back," I ask " back to where and for whom?”
Should the descendants of the native tribes who held this land rise up and demand that all of us go back to the lands from which our ancestors came?
Should England demand that we destroy all symbols which glorify those treasonous rebels who fought against their government in the 1770s?
We cannot change our history.
We must accept even those parts of it of which we are not proud. Perhaps we can learn from it.
We do not need to rename cities, counties, schools and streets; we do not need to desecrate monuments built to honor many who believed their "rights" were being denied; we do not need to wave a battle flag which proclaims our so-called "superiority."
We do need to recognize that all people are created equal, not only under God, but also under our legal system.
It is when we transgress those moral and legal laws that we become inferior.
Just as each of us has a diverse ancestry (watch those ads), so does our nation.
We have diverse religions, ethnic origins, cultures and outward appearances.
Helen Taylor is a longtime resident of Dawson County. Her column appears periodically in the Dawson County News.