Sunday, November 05, 2017

"Honorable men fight dishonorable wars" -- Eloquent Column by Retired JAG Corps Colonel Elizabeth Masters on Confederate Monument Contextualization

Eloquent column by retired Colonel Elizabeth Masters. I support preservation of this simple but eloquent monument to veterans, with proper context, as St. Augustine Commissioners unanimously agreed to do at their meeting last month, after a compelling presentation by St. Augustine City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E.

Posted November 5, 2017 12:02 am - Updated November 5, 2017 09:42 am
St. Augustine
St. Augustine Record GUEST EDITORIAL: Honorable men fight dishonorable wars

I am a heritage native tracing my roots back to 1595 in this amazing city. Most of the St. Augustine residents memorialized on the confederate memorial were my ancestors.

I am most directly related to one Soldier, Peter Masters, who was both my cousin and the cousin of the late Mayor, Kenneth Beason.

I retired last year from the Florida National Guard, an organized militia. Per our State constitution, most adult males residing in Florida are members of Florida’s unorganized militia.

Those Confederate soldiers memorialized were as well — and obeyed the State Constitution. They served when called. My ancestor, Peter, was a modest Menorcan, not a slave holder.

“Into the valley of death, into the jaws of hell,” he marched, and I think of the Charge of the Light Brigade poem whenever I visit the memorial. The marker verbalizes the grief of those mourning soldiers lost in a tragic war — one in which their state leadership wrongfully directed them to participate. It serves as a warning to all of us today, that the wrong elected leaders, like Florida Civil war era Governors Perry and Milton, cause great harm.

As a retired soldier myself, like my father, husband and brothers, we went where directed to go in service of state and nation.

I well recall my late father’s belief that the Vietnam war was a waste of lives and fought in vain. Yet when called to lead his battalion into a combat zone in, he served honorably and well.

Not all of his men came back and this troubled him greatly for the rest of his life.

Florida’s Constitution still has a militia clause, and at any time citizens may be called upon to serve. While we pray that the call will be just, if history proves that it is not, are not the mothers of the fallen still Gold Star Mothers? Are not the dead still honorable soldiers who died serving their state as ordered by the duly elected governors at the time? Any marker giving context to the memorial should vilify the leadership of the State of Florida at the time, not the fallen.

My cousin Peter and all of my other ancestors who died, lost their lives serving honorably as indicated on their State of Florida military service records. As the humble Menorcan men that they were, they answered the call of their governor. That is just what soldiers do.

My cousin Peter is a hero to me. The Florida Legislature and governors of the time, are not. I recommend choosing the contextual marker verbiage with care to draw this distinction.

Ms. Masters is a lawyer and a retired Colonel with the Florida Army National Guard Judicial Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

Photo by Dr. Holly Goldstein,

1 comment:

Warren Celli said...

Men and women led astray fight dishonorable wars...

What if the state or city government made a law that jaywalkers must be shot on sight?

And what if a national guard soldier or a city police officer saw his/her mother jaywalking?

Would they simply say, "The law is the law!", and kill their mother?

When you kill on the command of another for a paycheck you have relinquished your morality to another for that paycheck. When that paycheck and that giving over of your morality involves punishment for non compliance you have only added to the immorality by locking yourself into a following future policy makers position.

A "just following orders" position is also condemned as immoral as many German generals learned at Nuremberg before they were executed.

Reality is a hard task master.

Thou shall not kill.

Consider this alternative for the monuments...

The RAINBOW pole... We are all in this together...

1. Leave all monuments just as they are.

2. Rename Government plaza, "The Rainbow Plaza".

3. Install a new RAINBOW pole monument (multi rainbow colors to wind up the pole in a helix pattern similar to a barber pole), 24 inches at the base of the pole and ascending to a width of 12" at the top) with a fifteen foot diameter circular 18" high granite seat base, the base to say on its vertical surrounding face: Fairism Is The Future! Equal Rights! Equal Justice! The pole to be a symbolic one foot higher than the existing Confederate Monument, and placed in between the Confederate Monument and Government House.

4. Create a healing "contextualizing" brochure explaining that those who forget the past are condemned to relive it, describe the past mistakes and sorrow embodied in all past monuments, and that healing requires reparations, repealing unjust Jim Crow laws, and removing and reprogramming those who have transgressed and led the city astray. Yes, I am talking about institutionalizing the likes of gangsters Bill Harriss, David Shoar, etc., and paying the Pig Debt. The brochure would include the "Charge of the Light Brigade" poem along with the lyrics of John Lennon's song "Imagine".

5. Hold monthly thematic RAINBOW festivals, similar to May day festivals (see link below) with colorful ribbons attached to the top of the pole. All festivals to have an overriding "unity in diversity" dominant theme that celebrates the common bonds of humanity with the monthly themes being sub dominant and that celebrate love, fun, and togetherness; celebrate spring, celebrate breaking barriers, celebrate overcoming handicaps, celebrate sustainability, celebrate children as the future, etc.

6. Roll the program out nationally using the cities place in history as a feature...

Or... you can just keep on pretending.