A recently published letter to the editor was written by a Kearney resident who hung a confederate flag outside her apartment on Confederate Memorial Day emblazoned with the words "It’s a Southern thing. Y’all wouldn’t understand." A neighbor complained and the author turned to the city at-large, asking "Do you know much about the history of our country?"

I don’t. Not as much as I wish I did, anyway. I do know a little bit about the Civil War, though. Certainly enough to understand why that particular symbol, the confederate flag, came into existence.

In the words of South Carolina’s (the first state to secede from the Union) "Declaration of Immediate Causes," the need to break away from the United States was because of "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states to the institution of slavery." The second sentence of Mississippi’s declaration reads similarly: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world." You’ll find similar sentiments in the declarations of Georgia, Texas and Florida.

If that’s not enough, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens said his cornerstone address that questions around the institution of slavery, and the need to put them "at rest forever" were "the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution."

This was the greatest core value that united the states that attempted to rip our nation apart, starting a war that would claim the lives of more than 600,000 people. Thankfully, our nation survived, enabling us to continue to strive to create a more perfect Union, establish Justice, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, despite the best efforts of those who would attempt to burn that goal to the ground.

So before you raise a symbol up for everyone to see, consider what it really stands for. The Confederate States of America fought with the aim of preserving a horrifying injustice. They waged a war against our nation rallied beneath a flag that too many still so callously display, not in solemn remembrance of the wrong done and lives wastefully spent in that banner’s name, but in a twisted, romanticized reverence and even pride.

History always is worth remembering, but not all history is worth celebrating. Symbols are important, and choosing to elevate one is a meaningful choice. Be ready for others to challenge you on it.

Josh Stoiber, Kearney