As a Southerner born and bred and an American who truly loves his country, I find this proposed action to be reprehensible. To me, it is just more of the curse of political correctness that has swept this country and has destroyed any attempt to tell truth in our history. Anyone who is offended by anything is able to achieve the "watering down" of our history and, in so doing, insures that our citizens but more particularly our young people know nothing about the trials and tribulations that went into making America great. As a result, our greatness is slipping away from us due to lack of understanding and knowledge from whence we came.
As a native Virginian, I always revered General Lee and I was taught that he fought against the United States and understood that the Civil War was a painful episode in our past. But I also understood that he was a Virginian born and bred, and like so many of his counterparts he couldn't go to war against his family and friends. Remember, folks, his home was right across the Potomac from Washington, and while he was pondering his decision he had to painfully think about the personal sacrifice he would be making if he resigned his commission.
Lee's family background and that of his wife, a descendant of George Washington, made his decision all the more difficult. After all, his own lineage included Lightfoot Harry Lee, a distinguished officer in the Revolutionary Army that fought the British. And his decision was not about slavery, it was about tradition and his love for Virginia. You have to remember, times were different back then. Culture and custom were much more localized and the differences between say a Virginian and a New Englander were much more dramatic. It was part of the reason why our government was set up to insure state's rights.
So after being only one of six West Point cadets to graduate without a single demerit, having distinguished himself in battle against Mexico under Winfield Scott, and successfully and quickly putting down John Brown's bloody raid at Harper's Ferry, Lee made the tortuous decision to defend his homeland.
The general started as the Commanding General of Virginia forces, working his way up to ultimately holding the lead position for the entire Confederate Army. He suffered dramatically by the death of so many men trying to take on a force much larger and better equipped than his own. And when he realized that continuation of the fight was futile in 1865, he surrendered with honor to General Ulysses Grant who treated him with dignity and respect.
As soon as the war ended, Lee disengaged himself from political issues and kept silent about the war. He wanted to do his part to heal the nation as quickly as possible and he devoted himself to being a good and honorable citizen. While some in Washington wanted him executed for treason, Grant refused, knowing that Lincoln would have not wanted that. He wanted America to somehow heal its wounds and return to normalcy as soon as possible.
In his final years, he served with distinction as President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. His mission was to help this fine but small school recover from the war and rebuild its faculty and staff into a first rate institution of higher learning. After his death in 1870, the school added his name and today it is Washington and Lee University, a fine and well-known university for students of excellence. And I think it is appropriate that it has the name of two historic Virginia families that loved their Commonwealth so deeply.
So to the Army War College and the supposed proponents of higher learning that are so concerned about the pictures of Lee and Jackson on their walls I say shame on you. Lee was a good and honorable man and, yes, he chose to fight for his home state instead of the nation, but many did the same. And for you to try and alter history by refusing to respect large players in our past you are trying to re-write a picture of America that needs for all to see and learn from. Take your political correctness back to the liberal bastions of Washington from whence it came.
I'll have more to say tomorrow about Jackson and also Nathan Bedford Forrest, another Confederate general who is also so misunderstood and dishonestly represented. Until then, remember real history and teach it to you your children; it's what we were made from as a people.
God bless you all and please, Lord, help us return America to sanity.