Across the Wide Missouri: Patrick Nielsen Hayden: “You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters.”: “I don’t think my great-great-grandfather was a monster…

…I think he was probably no more monstrous than most people, though the cause he fought for turned out to be a bad one. Who knows what our own descendants will judge us for? We should all hope that they remember, as we should, that history is a bitch. From the New York Times, 24 June 2015:
‘In Austin, Tex., a tall bearded man went into the tattoo parlor where Kelly Barr works with a request: the removal a 10-year-old tattoo of the Confederate flag. He told Mr. Barr that he had decided to get the flag removed when he saw the pained look on a middle-age black woman at his gym on Monday. “If South Carolina can take theirs down,” Mr. Barr recalled him saying, “I can take mine down.” “I told him, ‘Right on.’”’
In 1862, Henry Isaac Newton, of Owensboro, Kentucky, father of two, joined in the Union Army of the Cumberland, 12th Kentucky Cavalry. He was captured in Sweetwater, Tennessee during Burnside’s abortive campaign to push south, and spent nearly a year in a Confederate prison. After his return, he and his wife had eight more children. On 31 Jan 1899, the second-to-last of those, Sarah Frances ‘Fannie’ Newton, married Clarence Eugene Hayden, the second son of Confederate veteran James S. Hayden. Fannie lived to 1970. I met her more than once. We’re not monsters because we say or do the wrong thing. We’re monsters when, later, we refuse to learn.