Editorial: History outlives opinions

Jul. 12, 2014 @ 11:24 PM

When the call comes to change the name of our county, it will be more interesting to see how long the new moniker can last than what it actually will be.

Think we’ll be Vance County forever? Reasonable doubt can be argued. Like an ocean, the waves keep coming to right things believed wrong.

According to the UNC Chapel Hill website, the monument Silent Sam was erected in 1913 as a salute to the 321 alumni who died in the Civil War and students who joined the Confederate Army.

Earlier this month it was the target of protesters and called the altar of sin.

Harsh on honoring the dead? Yes. Whether right or wrong is dependent on opinion, same as for any number of other so-called wrongs trying to be righted.

The list is growing, for various reasons mainly linked to race, gender and religion. Our country’s president coming out against an NFL team’s name is a small example. Many universities have, or are considering, changes to their mascots or changing lyrics in fight songs. There are, or have been, numerous requests for removal or name changes involving statutes, buildings, roads and scripture. Really, nothing is off limits.

So we’re waiting to see what group will make the call on our county name. Will we be first in the link, or behind the Wake County town of his first name, or Vanceboro in Craven County? Schools, buildings, roads and statutes in his honor may soon be targets like Silent Sam at UNC.

We’re named for Zebulon B. Vance, governor between 1862-1865 and 1877-1879 and U.S. senator from 1879-1894. He fought for the Confederacy and his family owned 18 slaves.

He also championed education, something the protesters in Chapel Hill earlier this month have done as well.

Protests, name change requests and the like aren’t too difficult to generate in a tunnel vision. Often, as with our county’s namesake, there is more to a name or statute than any particular good deed, mistake or choice for an era that gets questioned generations later. That doesn’t mean all protesters are necessarily wrong either.

Our county may or may not change names. But certainly, the history of generations past cannot be changed, no matter how many things we rename or tear down.