Heartbroken, I have learned that my beloved Bentonville, Arkansas, has been attacked. The Confederate monument that rests in the center of our town square has been defaced. The carpetbaggers that have lately inundated Bentonville have chosen to eradicate part of our history; our history, not theirs. James Henderson Berry served as a second lieutenant with the 16th Arkansas Infantry, losing his right leg during the Second Battle of Corinth in Mississippi. Berry became a lawyer and was elected as an Arkansas Representative and then as Governor of Arkansas, later serving as a U.S. Senator. He passed in 1913 and is buried in Bentonville. The statue was erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 111 years later, the rifle the figure leans on has been destroyed, much as the pillars our society leans upon have been broadsided. We celebrated the centennial of its installation in 2008. What has changed in 11 years? Bentonville has been afflicted with those sowing discord among us, ridiculing our supposedly benighted and backward traditions. These interlopers dare to decry ‘the shame of Bentonville’ and to dictate to us how we must change our town to fit their craven image of the ‘enlightened’ cities from whence they came. How dare they? How dare we allow this?

The monument’s inscription, beautiful in its solemnity, reads:

To the Southern soldiers…They fought for home and fatherland. Their names are borne on honor’s shield. Their record is with God.

We must remember that the Confederate soldier did not fight for any ideology, but rather for his home. They fought for the posterity of their descendants and for the backyard graves of their fathers before them, for the hills and streams of their communities. They fought out of the purest love of family, not out of hatred. These monuments were erected to honor the memory of those who sacrificed so much, often everything, to defend hearth and home. To disfigure these is as the Taliban annihilating the Bamiyan Buddhas. For those scalawags who support the effort to erase our inheritance: to allow people who know nothing about Bentonville, who look at us with nary but a sneer, to deny us our heritage is to defile the graves of your ancestors. We are not worthy of our descendants if we do not deign to honor our forefathers, those giants among men who served us so faithfully.

Neil Kumar

Neil Kumar is a law student who lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. He is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Sons of the American Revolution, with blood that has been Southern since the seventeenth century

Leave a Reply