Over 150-years ago, volunteers from Minnesota were looked upon as “can-do” leaders in resolving a political and cultural revolt resulting in a major victory for both black and white Americans. Today, Minnesota has another opportunity to show the country that same can-do leadership spirit can be a beacon of hope in a time of chaos, despair, and frustration.
I live in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, less than 30 minutes from where George Floyd was killed and where the Third Police Precinct was abandoned by the Mayor of Minneapolis and Governor of Minnesota. In the fallout from George Floyd’s death and nationwide rioting and looting, most people recognize that we are in the midst of a cultural revolt. Anger, violence, and an abdication of leadership have paved the way for mobs that are intent on destroying our culture and history.
At the same time, we are also celebrating the anniversary of the beginning of the end of another cultural revolt: the 157th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War which occurred over three days, July 1–3,1863. The Minnesota First Volunteer Infantry Regiment was pivotal in winning the Battle of Gettysburg by sacrificing itself to stop a Confederate charge so that Union Troops could regroup for a counterattack. However, their sacrifice came at a tremendous cost. Over 80 percent of the Minnesota 1st Volunteer Regiment never returned home. It was the highest percentage of casualties in the American Civil War and any war in U.S. Army history to this very day.
As a descendant of American Black Slaves and a Republican Candidate for U.S. Congress from the state of Minnesota, I am honored to pay homage to those men for their ultimate sacrifice resulting in the freedom of American Black slaves and preserving our great nation.
I am an advocate for more in-depth learning of U.S. history including the preservation of monuments and historical literature. It is through the honest lens of history that we appreciate our humanity in how far we have come as citizens and as a country. By doing so, we understand past differences and we can form cross-cultural bonds of unity.
As we struggle yet again with race relations in 2020, let us draw strength from one of our greatest Presidents. President Abraham Lincoln shared these words to heal a grieving nation. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln said, “…With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
I challenge leaders across all spectrums of our country, including political leaders, to acknowledge that it is to our credit that we honor the sacrifices made throughout our country’s history. It is imperative we acknowledge that we benefit from the cover of safety and eat from the table of plenty because of their sacrifices to advance the idea of liberty and freedom for all citizens, even though many of our forebearers did not achieve that promise themselves in their lifetime. We should follow the lead of the Minnesota First Voluntary regiment and defend our shared history. Let us build upon their work in good faith.
Kendall Qualls is a Republican Candidate for U.S. Congress in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. He is a former U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer. Kendall spent over 25 years in the healthcare industry leading teams with Johnson & Johnson, Roche Labs and Medtronic/Covidien. Most recently, he was an executive with a healthcare startup company that helps cancer patients. Kendall and his wife, Sheila, have been married 34 years and have five children and a black lab named Largo.