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History As It Happens

May 30, 2024

Collective memory -- what our society chooses to remember, honor, or erase from our past -- is perpetually mediated. For generations Confederate statues and monuments stood in public squares until a new racial reckoning compelled cities and towns to remove them. But that wasn't the end of the story -- at least not in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Its school board voted to restore the names of Confederate Generals Lee, Jackson, and Ashby to a pair of schools which had been renamed (Honey Run and Mountain View) in 2020. In Tennessee, the caretakers of the Franklin Battlefield just dedicated a new monument honoring the Texas soldiers who fought there for the Confederacy in 1864. In this episode, historian and Substack writer Kevin Levin discusses the grip Lost Cause mythology continues to hold on the minds of some Americans today, and the difficult task of acknowledging important historical events and actors without glorifying their causes.