The city Councilor of Charlottesville, Va. Kristin Szakos wants to remove historical statues. She wonders what others think about the Confederate Statues and what the statues portray to those visiting Charlottesville. I wonder how the city would be thought of, if they removed the statues. The Taliban in Afghanistan remove/destroyed history to suit their Muslim beliefs. A centuries old Buddhist Temple was destroyed to erase the truths. The City Councilor would fit in with the Taliban, wanting to erase history as she sees fit. Since it appears Mrs Szako is not a native Charlottesville resident, possibly not a Virginian either, I would like to point out some Virginia History.
Almost one hundred and fifty one years ago on April 4, 1861 the Commonwealth of Virginia held a State Convention and voted to stay in the United States. A few days later Ft Sumter was fired upon by the South Carolina Militia. Why did South Carolina open fire? Their agreement with the Federal Government had been violated by the new Administration, the Lincoln Administration! The response from the Lincoln Administration was to force States to send troops to suppress the so-called rebellion. The actions of President Lincoln were considered unconstitutional by Citizens, scholars Legislators, Governors and even former Presidents. This news spread across the Country and Virginia held another vote of Delegates from each County. On April 17th 1861 the Delegates approved the ordinance of secession and thus began War in Virginia.
Virginia Militias were well regulated and organized as the practice of the day by most other States. As the customs of the day, every Virginian was expected to do their duty. Robert E. Lee was a proud Union supporter, his family fought against the British for Independence, Lee was a Colonel with the Union Army when Virginia seceded, it has been suggested that the elderly General, Winfield Scott handpicked Colonel Lee to lead the Union Army. Instead Robert E. Lee resigned his commission for he said “I shall never bear arms against the Union, but it may be necessary for me to carry a musket in the defense of my native state, Virginia, in which case I shall not prove recreant to my duty.” His own Son was so upset with his Father, yet Robert E. Lee shared wisdom with his Son, telling him Virginia was their home, did he expect to live in Virginia, with his neighbors and not support Virginia.
It was the Governor and Political Leaders of Virginia along with the Lincoln Administration which brought war to Virginia. Men such as Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson did their duty as Citizens of the Commonwealth, as so many other Virginians did.
Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was a Mexican American War hero, for his bravery under fire. After the War he became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. While he taught at VMI he also provided Bible Study for Blacks, both Free and enslaved. He wanted to share his Christian beliefs and founded the Bible Study group. While serving the Confederacy he continued to send his money back to the Bible Study group to purchase more Bibles. He shared his concerns for the group and hoped it was being continued in his absence.
Today we as a society know little of these two men, both are ‘just’ considered slave owners without thought or reason to understand the culture and laws of their day. While Robert E. Lee was a slave owner only because he married a slave owner and her property became his. Robert E. Lee hated slavery and letters to this effect prove it.
Many years ago I met a Black Man; his name is Robert E. Lee IV. I asked him about his name and he refused to talk about it. Then one day he volunteered his Family history; his Family were slaves living at Arlington Plantation in Northern Va. When General Lee witnesses a brutal beating by an overseer against a slave, Lee stopped the attack and saved the Black Man possibly saving his life. General Lee then fired the abusive overseer, it was then the Slave turned and promised General Lee that each first son born in his family would be named Robert E. Lee. I asked my friend who was newly married if he too will name his first Son after General Lee, he didn’t know. Years later I heard he had a Son and named him Robert E. Lee V.
The Commonwealth of Virginia celebrates a State Holiday commemorating two Sons of Virginia, Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. These two Sons served Virginia and did their duty as Virginians. We should remember them and all those that followed these great Generals into war. A war not of their choosing or desire, but one that was thrust upon them; they did their duty as Virginians. They should be remembered and the Statues should remain for All Virginians to remember and understand what duty means!
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