- City of Selma, AlabamaDr. Cecil Williamson
Honoring our past through the education of our future
Many groups are proud of their heritage and protest anything they see as a violation, however many times they like many others have never been taught the truth!
- Dr. Cecil Williamson
City of Selma, Alabama
It has been the custom and the tradition for many years for towns across the South to honor men and women who have significantly impacted its history and oftentimes played a role in securing its continued existence. These men and women are honored by civic organizations through the construction of monuments and memorials to recognize their sacrifices. Selma, Alabama is no different than any other town in allowing this practice to continue.
An issue that has recently emerged in this storied Southern town is a conflict that arose as a result of the statue honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest being worked upon and expanded. Due consideration was given before proceeding with this project, including the reputation of the man being honored.
History has a way of skewing the lines of truth and in many cases, innuendo and misinformation have a way of perpetuating this for generations. It is in this situation that myth and legend oftentimes replace facts. This issue regarding Forrest is no different.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a hero in Selma. Although unsuccessful, he fought to keep Union troops from razing the town despite being wounded in a previous day’s battle. Forrest was a great soldier and a “Wizard” in the Saddle. This was due, in no large part, to the opinion of many that he was the best horseman on either side of the War.
His life and history has been the subject of much misinformation provided to the general public. Stories, often untrue, painted him as a racist and terrorist who caused much damage in the South. His actions, if you read the personal accounts of others who served with him during the War and were acquainted with him afterwards, show a different man. A man dedicated to working with ALL people.
It is time that this nation begin to seek knowledge of the truth regarding, not just this man but the other men and events that shaped the Civil War. We should not rely on the history books we had in school that provided half-truths and skewed viewpoints. We need to educate the public about the facts of what occurred so that the past can be honored for our future. We should not qualify those “learned” historians who seek only to further revise the truth of history for their own self-aggrandizement. We need to look to the writings of the men and women who lived during that time. We need to let their voices be heard.
We the undersigned ask that the monument project continue and another piece of our history be preserved. We further ask that the Town Council work to ensure that the education of this nation’s children includes the facts surrounding Nathan Bedford Forrest and others who have made their mark in history. It is in the best interest of all concerned to make use of the facts present so that future embarrassment is avoided.
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