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Even this Confederate general thought monuments were a bad idea. His reasons make sense.

He thought they would continue to divide the country. He was right.

Even this Confederate general thought monuments were a bad idea. His reasons make sense.

On Aug. 17, Donald Trump started the day as only he could: with a full-throated defense of the Confederacy.

Responding to renewed calls to remove Confederate monuments around the country, Trump decried action, defending them on aesthetic (yes, the man who plates everything in gold and slaps his name on it has thoughts on style) and historical grounds. Sigh.

While Trump might not take advice from those in the #FakeNewsMedia, there's one person he should hear on this issue: Robert E. Lee.

Yes, that Robert E. Lee. Confederate Gen. Robert. E. Lee.


As it turns out, he had some thoughts on whether these monuments should be built in the first place. In short, he was against it.

Charlottesville, Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue was the center of a recent march by white supremacists. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In a December 1868 letter, Lee addressed a proposal to build a monument in his honor:

"As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated; my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour. All I think that can now be done, is to aid our noble & generous women in their efforts to protect the graves & mark the last resting places of those who have fallen, & wait for better times."

In other words, monuments celebrating the Confederacy would only serve to further divide the newly-united United States and slow down any progress that had been made. Given that we're still arguing about monuments and flags more than 150 years since the war ended, Lee seems to have been absolutely right.

We don't need monuments celebrating the Confederacy to remember the Civil War, and nobody is erasing history by suggesting they be removed.

Some may argue that monuments glorifying Confederate soldiers are necessary if we want to avoid making the same mistakes and going to war with ourselves once again. That simply doesn't make sense.

Germany has managed to remember the Nazis without erecting statues of Hitler throughout the country. In fact, the country made a concentrated effort to eliminate anything that could become the center of a neo-Nazi pilgrimage. They went so far as to turn the place where Hitler died into a parking lot.

Moreover, it's worth noting that the monuments themselves are not historical artifacts. Many are relatively recent creations. In fact, 32 Confederate monuments in the U.S. were build in just the past 17 years, several of which were in Union states. Going back further, many of these monuments were built as anti-black backlash to the civil rights movement. The same goes for Southern affinity toward the Confederate battle flag, which only rose in the 1950s and 1960s, again, in protest of the civil rights movement.

Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag have less to do with the actual Civil War and much more to do with opposition to civil rights.

A 1969 photo of the carving at Stone Mountain, featuring Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Stone Mountain was the birthplace of the second Ku Klux Klan in 1915. The carving wasn't completed until 1972. Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.

If the goal truly is to avoid another Civil War, the answer isn't to pepper the country with statues, but to stop teaching a sanitized version of history.

The Civil War was fought over slavery. Period.

Take it from Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, who in March 1861, said slavery and "the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization" was "the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution," referring to the war. He added, "[T]he negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

It seems straightforward, and yet a 2015 Marist poll found that just 53% of Americans agree that slavery was the driving force behind the Civil War, with 41% disagreeing with that statement. Some may argue that it was really about "states' rights," but "states' rights" to do what exactly? To own slaves.

We do need to stop sanitizing our history, and that must begin with acknowledging that our country has an ugly past. Lee doesn't need your monuments, and he will never, ever be forgotten.

Let’s put this argument to rest and commit to better education, not ahistorical glorification.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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