We in the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, like all Americans of good will and honor, have been stunned by the horrific murders in Charleston. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the victims.

The alleged murderer, we know, repeatedly displayed the Confederate battle flag. Given what we have learned about his despicable racist beliefs, the recent national conversation about that flag is therefore inevitable and necessary.

The SUVCW is dedicated to preserving the memory of those who fought to preserve the Union. For that reason, all monuments and markers relevant to the Civil War should be preserved, including those associated with the Confederacy.

Each generation, each community, has remembered the Civil War differently.

The Civil War monuments in South Carolina are an integral part of our history. Good or bad, they tell us something about who we have been as a state and as a nation.

We have the right to critique the men honored by those monuments, and those who erected them.

We can also build new monuments to those whose contributions have previously been ignored.

But we should not destroy or deface monuments we have inherited from the past. If we start down that slippery slope, where will it end?

We owe their preservation to future generations, who should have the same chance we have had to judge them, praise them, denounce them, and learn from them.

We are better than ISIS.

Brian C. Pierson

Col., U.S. Air Force (Retired) Chief of Staff, Ga. and S.C. Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War

Mallard Drive