But for some other children living nearby, he had a different message. “Be on your guard,” he’d warn as they headed to a separate school on the edge of town. “Know your place. I’m watching you.” As they’d walk past him, eyes toward the ground, he’d whisper, “This is not your land. You’re only here to serve.”
Then one bright morning, those brave, dark children had heard enough. They looked up at the soldier’s musket, his wide-brimmed hat, and the names of Confederate dead inscribed on the pedestal below. “You’re wrong,” they told him. “This land was built by our ancestors brought here against their will. It’s the land of our parents and grandparents. We belong here as much as you.” They stared for a moment at those hard, cold eyes. Then with heads held high, they made there way across the street.