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Things get heated as New Orleans dismantles Confederate monuments.

There are no easy answers when it comes to a war that divided the country, but we can try.

Things get heated as New Orleans dismantles Confederate monuments.

In the early hours of April 24, 2017, the first of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans was dismantled — to the delight of some and anger of others.

In 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 to remove four of the city's Confederate monuments. Just months after Dylann Roof murdered nine people inside a Charleston, South Carolina, church, many in the South began the process of reconsidering what place Confederate flags and monuments have in modern society.

New Orleans voted to remove its public monuments.


The first monument taken down was the Liberty Place monument — a statue honoring the Crescent City White League's attempt to overthrow New Orleans' government after the Civil War.

Workers dismantle the Liberty Place monument. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

From 1934 until 1981, when the inscription was covered up, the statue shared an endorsement of white supremacy:

"McEnery and Penn having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored). United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."

You'd think that dismantling a literal monument to white supremacy would be something most people could agree on. You'd be wrong.

Workers taking down the monument faced threats of violence from those intent on preserving it and had to sneak in to dismantle it in the dead of night, guarded by snipers and wearing bulletproof vests and military-style helmets.

A common argument in favor of protecting the Confederate-era monuments is that removing them would be a form of "erasing history."

Corey Stewart, a Republican running for governor of Virginia, even went so far as to say that removing the monument meant that "ISIS has won."

And others made a bizarre argument about the removal of the monument being about "Marxism."

Dana Farley of New Orleans stands vigil at the statue of Jefferson Davis. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

But taking down these monuments doesn't mean forgetting the Confederacy's role in American history.

Nobody is going to forget the Confederacy anytime soon — especially not those whose ancestors were harmed by it — and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who argues that artifacts from the Civil War shouldn't be displayed in proper context within museums.

Yes, some monuments simply mark a historical event or person; but others outright celebrate them, and it can be a very thin line between the two. Perhaps there's a better way to remember significant moments in history without celebrating those who fought to preserve the institution of slavery.

In 2016, The Atlantic reported that there are around 1,500 Confederate monuments around the U.S. — many of these monuments located in regions of the country that weren't even a part of the Confederacy. Statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard pepper the country.

On Twitter, people chimed in with some suggestions for what we can honor in place of these monuments without forgetting or erasing our Civil War history.

History is what happens, and it should never, ever be forgotten. Monuments come after, and they don't always get it right.

Remembering the Civil War doesn't mean we must pay tribute to those who took arms against the state, and it certainly doesn't mean we must (or even should) preserve literal monuments to white supremacy and racism — especially in a city with a majority people-of-color population.

Workers dismantle the Liberty Place monument. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP.

The real question here — which is sure to bring out strong emotions on all sides of this issue — is about what we build next. Do we take a critical look at our past to inform ourselves how to live better today, or do we devote time and energy and emotion to uncritical protection of vanity monuments that only divide us further?

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Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

Anyone who has gone through the process of disentangling themselves from an addiction knows it's an ongoing, daily battle. It may get easier, and the payoffs may become more apparent, but it's still a decision someone makes each day to stay detached from their substance of choice.

Seeing someone who has a long record of sobriety—especially after a very public struggle—can be motivating and inspiring for others in different stages of their recovery journey. That's part of why actor Rob Lowe's announcement that he's reached 31 years sober is definitely something to celebrate.

"Today I have 31 years drug and alcohol free," Lowe wrote on Twitter. "I want to give thanks to everyone walking this path with me, and welcome anyone thinking about joining us; the free and the happy. And a big hug to my family for putting up with me!! Xoxo"

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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