Nikki Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, recently spoke at the laying of a wreath at a historic fort in South Carolina, and made the point that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that the result has implications for today’s society. Her remarks have stirred a bit of controversy in certain corners, as some have suggested that it is wrong to characterize the Civil War in such a simplistic manner. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Haley’s message was clear: slavery was the root cause of the Civil War, and the struggle for individual freedom was the lesson learned. This is an incredibly important point to ponder when looking at the history of America’s civil rights struggle. Throughout U.S. history, there have been countless examples of racism, prejudice and discrimination against communities and individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation or any other category. The Civil War was the tipping point in many ways, and its aftermath served as a driving force in the fight for equality. In her remarks, Haley went on to discuss how today’s society must work to build a stronger future of tolerance by clarifying the lessons of the Civil War. She stated, “We must strive for understanding, empathy, and progress in order to move forward together. Our great nation is at its best when everyone has a say and everyone has a seat at the table.” These words are an inspiring reminder of the importance of remembering our history and carrying its lessons into the future. The Civil War was a tragedy that served as an example of the power of individual freedom; the remembrance of it must be an opportunity for us to remind ourselves that the struggle for equality is ongoing and cannot be taken for granted. As we continue to strive for greater understanding and inclusion across the country, Nikki Haley’s words ring true that “Individual freedom was the lesson learned” during the Civil War.