The violent protests over removal of Confederate monuments and statues speak directly to why these relics should stand no longer in public places where they serve as reminders to America's still raw race pain.
Similarly, questions of whether we are rewriting history and changing culture offer opportunity - as do the calls to remove the monuments - for us to have important conversations.
What we do with these opportunities will determine whether we move toward healing or just widen a growing divide of hate.
To many people of color, monuments to and statues of former slave owners, slave traders and Ku Klux Klan leaders such as Nathan Bedford Forest stand as painful reminders.
To many southern whites and descendents of Confederate soldiers, the bronze likenesses of Forest and Robert E. Lee and others serve as relics of history.
Clearly, history is a relative thing.
Violence in Charlottesville, Va.
- Charlottesville suspect arrested in Georgia to be extradited
- Rally sparks reflection on race, equality in Charlottesville
- Tillerson says Trump 'speaks for himself' on racial violence
- Economic adviser knocks Trump's response to Charlottesville
- Violence in Charlottesville leads to soul-searching at ACLU
- Charlottesville covers Confederate statue with black shroud
- Trump blames media for condemnation of comments on Virginia [video]
- Memphis council weighing steps to remove Confederate statues
- Cooper: Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery gesture unnecessary, empty
- NAACP plans vigil to rally support for removal of Confederate statue at Hamilton County Courthouse
- Smith: Reject the violence, intimidation; it's not speech
- Anger boils over at Charlottesville, Va., council meeting
- Sohn: Our monumental anger needs healing
- Cooper: Is there an end to sanitizing?
- Kennedy: Embers of war can reignite
- Sohn: Thank you, Sen. Corker, for brave words
- OPINION: Events in Charlottesville begin to reverberate in Chattanooga
- Charlottesville exposes new threat for college campuses
- Sohn: Let Trump race-shock give way to resolve
- Hundreds attend rally in Coolidge Park; passionate, peaceful debate ensues [video, photos]
- Trump defends Confederate statues, berates his critics
- Confederate monuments removed or vandalized across the U.S.
- Corker condemns Virginia death as 'act of terror,' steers clear of Trump flap
- Greeson: Can we draw a line in the sand or water?
- Defiant Trump renews criticism of 'both sides' in protest
- Charlottesville, Va., to mourn woman killed at rally in memorial
- Mojo Burrito fires employee who went to Charlottesville, Va., rally
- Corker urges state lawmakers to remove bust of KKK leader from Capitol
- Trump blames 'both sides' for Charlottesville
- Hate-watch groups agree rally was largest in decade or more
- Trump speaks on Charlottesville: 'Racism is evil'
- Charlottesville violence fuels calls for removal of Forrest bust from state Capitol
- Officer on fatal Charlottesville crash: 'Hahahaha love this'
- Troopers killed in Charlottesville helicopter crash had close ties to East Tennessee
- Chattanoogans react to Charlottesville protests [photos]
- Friends of Chattanooga man arrested in Virginia claim he was fighting white supremacy
- Experts: Violence the result of political pressure cooker
- One of three arrested during Charlottesville rally is from Chattanooga
- Trump condemns bigotry, blames 'many sides' for violent clashes in Virginia
- White nationalist rally in Virginia brings violence
- The latest on the violent white nationalist rally being held in Charlottesville, Virginia
- Chaos boils over at what is believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists this decade
We all share the Civil War history. We do not all share the same Civil War history.
Our president said last week: "You're changing history. Where does it stop?"
Changing history? No. We're not changing history. History was changed in the 1920s and 1960s when racists made heroes of slave owners and slave traders to erect these monuments a half century after the Civil War in order to make subtle fists in the faces of minorities.
The first and major spike in Confederate statue building began right after the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case established the "separate but equal" doctrine that gave rise to both Jim Crow laws and the formation of the NAACP. Another influence was the "nationalism" movement in the South following the first World War - that's also about the time the Klan made a comeback as the "Invisible Empire." Many of the Confederate statues went up then (and it became fashionable to name schools for Confederates) - between 1900 and 1919. It was a quiet, but in-your-face, symbol of supremacy.
History was changed again with another spike of Confederate memorializing and flag-waving in the decade after the next big Supreme Court decision involving race - the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.
Where does it stop?
The president and others ask where we draw the line. Are George Washington and Thomas Jefferson - both slave owners - next?.
It's actually pretty easy to draw this line. George Washington risked his life and fortune to create America. Robert E. Lee commanded the army that tried to dismantle America - the country Washington built.
Yes, Jefferson, by owning slaves, failed to live up to the ideals he penned into the U.S. Constitution: "that all men are created equal." But he did continually work toward laws that would end slavery and return slaves to the countries of their origin. Lee, on the other hand, served a rebel government based on the "cornerstone" that slavery was a black's "natural and moral condition."
Given these contrasts and the history that these statues (and our textbooks) both distort and omit, is it any wonder that race remains a sore spot in America? That's why we need the conversations.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has broken with some members of his own party and joined leaders like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in removing Confederate battle flags. Haslam also has urged the removal of a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol. That will take some doing - and talking - since the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law requiring a two-thirds vote by the state historical commission (or an act of the legislature) to do so.
But here's a suggestion. In the process of having these conversations, let's look for solutions that broaden us all.
The Center for Civil War Research webpage lists 236 Confederate cemeteries in 22 states. The organization lists 10 cemeteries in Alabama, 48 in Georgia and 12 in Tennessee. And the website acknowledges there may be many more.
Many of these Confederate cemeteries are little known and uncelebrated, so why not explore moving some of these monuments from public statehouses and courthouse lawns and city parks to those Confederate resting places - the perfect site for memorialization and a location that is anything but an intended or unintended taunt.
It's also true that perhaps not all Confederate monuments need be moved.
With thoughtful conversation that might be the case with our local one and only Confederate statue of an individual, Gen. Alexander "A.P." Stewart, whose bust stands on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn.
Stewart's likeness is there not because he was originally a Chattanooga son or because he embodied the old slave-owning stereotype of the Confederacy. He was none of those things. He's there because he was instrumental in the late 1890s and early 1900s in planning and creating of the nation's first military park - the military park aimed at healing our wounds by memorializing the soldiers, not the generals, of both sides.
Stewart and a former Union man, Gen. Joseph S. Fullerton, served as civilian "commissioners" to create the park and mend our divides.
Stewart died in 1908 and the Daughters of the Confederacy paid for the Stewart statue and had it placed at the courthouse in 1919.
A rational question is why a corresponding statue of the Union commissioner was not placed at the courthouse by a Union descendants group. But perhaps that's more fodder for the discussion now sought by the Chattanooga chapter of the NAACP. The NAACP, led by President Elenora Woods, is asking local leaders to move the Stewart statue.