Some claim that stripping the rebels’ honors is erasing history. I respectfully disagree. I believe Americans must study history and learn from it; service members are encouraged to read history on their own time, and veterans like me maintain the habit. But studying history doesn’t require honoring Confederate figures.

Likewise, you can celebrate towering leaders from the past for their contributions to America—such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—while drawing a firm line against honoring those who fought to destroy America.

The work of reckoning with the Confederate past is too important to be left to the mob. Vandalism is an affront to the rule of law. Renaming buildings and removing statues must be done in an orderly fashion through legitimate channels. American society is built on laws. Adherence to the law is the only thing that separates any society from barbarism.