Confederate Memorial Day strikes a nerve with both sides of the spectrum

Friday May 9, 1980 marked the first day Confederate Memorial Day was observed in South Carolina. Since then men like Terry Carter have recognized the annual event by observing the 403 men from Horry County who served and died with the Confederate States of America.

"These were men by in large that did not own slaves. They were men fighting an invading country," says Carter, a Commander in the South Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans Organization. "We are remembering this men who served and especially these men who died, whether anyone thinks they fought for this reason or the other."

But SC National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member Benny Swan says the state should not observe Confederate Memorial Day.

"You don't celebrate the British soldiers who died for the revolutionary war," says Swans. "It really comes down to who they were fighting for and what they were fighting against."

Local historian Ben Burroughs says no matter what someone believes is the reason for the cause of the Civil War the importance of recognizing history is valuable.

"I think it gets dangerous when you start picking out certain groups and try to eliminate their heritage whether you like it or don't like it," says Burroughs. "I'm not saying that everybody should feel the same way about it, but certainly the people who understand and respect that history should have the right to respect it, as well as other people for their history."

Burroughs says society during the Civil War was completely different than it is now, and people should not hold our ancestors to the standards of today. "I don't think we should be judging those people from the standards of today. If we did, we're all in trouble."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Carter says, are not a group of that condones slavery or want to retract history. "Each year we give awards recognizing young men and women in JROTC groups in high schools," he says. "There are many occasions where our recipients of those awards are African American children."

Carter says just last year an African American teenager from Green Sea Floyds High School received an award from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Most believe the Civil War was fought over the institution of slavery, Carter disagrees. "I can understand a group of people focusing on a given subject but in many respects they are misinformed. The Civil War was an economic war," Carter says.

But slavery, for Swans, was the foundation for the Civil War. "I don't like to think that men are celebrating a certain time in history where their cause was to suppress other men," says Swans.

Suppression is something Carter says his organization doesn't condone. They're just remembering men like his Great-great-great grandfather who fought during that time. "No matter how you want to twist it or turn it or ignore it you can't, because it's a part of our history."

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