On vast battlefields,
Where tempers and emotions
Ran hot as any molten bronze
Set to be poured into molds,
Where veterans gathered,
Year after year recalling
Fallen comrades,
Celebrating survival,
Of monumental events,
The memorials and tributes
Help tell the stories.

But in town squares
In city centers throughout
The land in a county once
Torn in two, once fighting
Over whether slavery would endure,
How do such memorials
Have a place among the people
Whose ancestors sought to keep
Another race down though
It had been declared all were created equal?

We the people
Debated for years
If those vanquished
Should pay tribute to traitors,
Yes, traitors, who had so declared
Even though they had worn Union blue,
Intentions to fight against a government
They had sworn to defend
Against foreign invaders
Seeking to tear it asunder.

We the people watched,
As those traitors were given
Pride of place by war survivors
By descendants and daughters,
And as sons continued
To hate and oppress,
And as subversives, ultra conservatives,
Took that hate to another level,
Seething decade after decade,
Ignoring emancipation, civil rights,
Despising those trying to pursue their own happiness.

Then it turned, boiling hot,
And statues came down,
Not to cancel history but to cancel
The fostering of hatred, of symbols
Representing the worst of us
And our inability to blend smoothly
In the melting pot we declared
We were as those who helped build this country
Poured through the doors of Ellis Island.

Finally, not long enough ago,
The likeness of Robert E Lee, Confederate general, perched
Upon his horse in Charlottesville,
In a secret location, because hate still lives,
Was cut to pieces and tossed into a fire,
Melted at 2500 degrees, liquid bronze
Flowing down his metal cheeks,
As he and his horse were reformed
Into bronze bars for a future project.

Who or what he becomes
Matters not, or does it?
Maybe we need to know, or not,
For hatred always seems to find space,
In a mind, amid friends, in a small group,
Where its embers smolder.
Will Robert E Lee reincarnated
Represent a better us,
Show how far we've come
Or how far we've still to go?

Author: Edward Dzitko

Photo: Ézé Amos on CNN

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