Alexandria Letter: Correct History

Alexandria Letter: Correct History

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am writing to comment on the article about the latest meeting of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names (“Civil War Still Reverberates,” April 14). There were some misinterpretations of history in the article that need to be corrected.

One member of the Advisory Group said the difference between Jefferson Davis and the other Confederate leaders is that Davis never pledged his allegiance to the United States the way Robert E. Lee did. But this is not true. Davis was a West Point graduate, a Mexican War veteran, and a former Secretary of War. Davis had a record of Federal service similar to that of Lee.

It was also stated in the article that many of the streets in the West End named after Confederate leaders, like Beauregard Street, run through traditionally African-American neighborhoods. But the historical reality is that the extreme West End does not have any traditionally African-American neighborhoods. The old original Hammond High that existed from 1956 to 1971 served a white population from the West End. That was the reason for the controversial consolidation plan in 1971. It was to achieve a better racial balance in the city’s secondary schools. It took a long time for the West End to become diverse.

I spoke before the Advisory Group at their third meeting on March 28 at the Downtown Baptist Church at 212 South Washington Street. As a 55-year-old, lifelong Alexandrian with family roots in the city going back to the early 1920s, I felt it incumbent upon myself to do so. I am firmly opposed to changing the names of any streets or schools or moving the statue around. It would be costly and confusing and it would set a bad precedent. We must preserve our heritage, not desecrate it.

Historical study and historical education in the United States today are in bad shape and the causes are varied. We seem to have lost our way as a culture and as a society.

Gregory G. Paspatis