The destruction of monuments and other objects of remembrance throughout history did not erase the history they represented.

  • In 1944, Nazi Germany destroyed numerous buildings, castles and parks in Poland.
  • From 1959 to 1964, Nikita Khrushchev closed and/or destroyed more than 10,000 mostly-rural churches as part of his anti-religious campaign in the Soviet Union.
  • In 2001, the Taliban destroyed 6th century Buddha statues they declared to be “heretical idols.”
  • ISIS has destroyed countless historical monuments and artifacts. Their acts have been referred to as a “cultural cleansing.”

We are Americans. We preserve our past and our heritage so we may learn from our successes and our failures.

Destruction of monuments dedicated to historical figures and heroes of our past will not delete the history they represent. In fact, their destruction will only divide us further.

Today, the target of cultural cleansing is Civil War and Confederate monuments. If you support destruction of monuments to that part of our shared history, who is to say monuments to a part of history you want to protect won’t be a target tomorrow?

Destruction of monuments is a slippery slope, indeed.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans died during the U.S. Civil War. Monuments and statues across our state commemorate the sacrifices of some 40,000 North Carolinians who died during the war – and the families who sacrificed with them.

In 2015, I voted in favor of a bill that protects all monuments across our state equally from destruction and removal. I stand by that vote, and I will not vote to lessen the protection of monuments should the occasion arise.

If you were to dedicate your time and energy to erecting a monument today, would you want future generations to tear it down in a fit of short-sighted rage? No, you dedicated your time and energy to that purpose because you wanted future generations to remember something significant.

Monuments that our forbearers built should remain so we and future generations may learn from our past.

Willful destruction of property against monuments dedicated to our past and the general lawlessness and violence that surrounded acts of the past week cannot be tolerated. I support the Durham County sheriff’s decision to charge those involved in the destruction of a monument in Durham on Monday.

Gov. Roy Cooper said this week that monuments should come down, and the history they represent belongs in museums and textbooks. If he got his way, removal of that history from textbooks and museums would be next.

You cannot rewrite our history, Gov. Cooper. I will not be party to any attempt to do so.

Michele Presnell

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