State Sen. Adam Ebbin has claimed the “Appomattox” statue does not meet the standard as a “unifier, to inspire us collectively and to venerate our greatest citizens.” Because he did not attend any hearings of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials, the council meeting when the vote was taken, or relevant lectures, perhaps he and others do not know some important facts.
The statue is a memorial to the brave Alexandrians whose names are inscribed on its base. These boyhood chums and volunteers in Alexandria’s 17th regiment mustered to defend their city and country, Virginia, from invading forces unconstitutionally recruited by President Lincoln to forcibly compel legally seceded states back into the union whose treasury was dependent on the tariff revenues of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Kentucky for 87 percent of the federal government’s income. Without it, the Union would fail.
The courage and sacrifices involved in putting one’s life on the line to defend freedom against an invader is surely the greatest contribution a citizen can make, so those men are certainly some of our greatest citizens. It has always been so and is today. They most assuredly do inspire us as patriotic Americans and therefore merit our veneration.
How regrettable that some now wrongly claim they were traitors. Secession was legal and Northern legislators had invoked that right as early as 1803, but never exercised it. After the war Congress recognized Confederate soldiers as American war veterans. Many are buried with their wives in Jackson Circle at Arlington Cemetery, one of our country’s most prestigious sites.
However, some people today still wrongly reject Confederates as Americans. They are our contemporary dividers, not unifiers.
The Custis-Lee Mansion was the former home of Gen. Robert E. Lee, built by his father-in-law to honor George Washington, but Congress made it a memorial to the Confederate general for his role in reconciliation after the war.
If “Appomattox” is moved/removed as a sop to 21st century political correctness and misunderstanding/ignorance of our past, we who cherish an accurate and full account of our history will be greatly disturbed at this disrespect to the truth of our past. We will recognize that some of our proud heritage has been removed from the unified whole story of our history — which must be presented as an inclusive account of what happened to be correct and true.
Purging what some do not like will not change the past or provide a reliably instructive aid to our present and future understandings. Deliberately presenting a partial truth as the whole truth is falsification and unworthy of honorable citizens.
Of course, I and others may object – heartily – to other statues, memorials and public art in the city, but have refrained out of respect for others who prize them. I note that “Appomattox” was funded and has been maintained privately – without tax or required developers’ funds, unlike other expressions reflecting our city’s history and artistic taste to which I was compelled to contribute without anyone first asking my permission.
Ellen Latane Tabb