To the Editor:
An open letter to the Alexandria City Council:
My family settled in New Kent County, Va., in 1656. More than 100 of my extended family served as Confederate soldiers during the War Between the States; and many of them died in the war — including my own great-great-grandfather who died in February 1863. From a state population of 640,000 Virginia fielded about 150,000 patriotic soldiers in Confederate service. Of these, 32,751 died in Confederate service.
Survivors of that war and their families vowed that Virginia would never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers in defending their country; and they created permanent memorials — including street names — to honor them. Compare this 32,751-life-sacrifice with the 11,444 Virginians killed in all of World War II; and that from a population of 2,677,000. The Confederate war losses for Virginia were crushing.
Eventually, the United States — once again united — enacted a law establishing Confederate soldiers as United States veterans on equal footing with all other U.S. military veterans — entitled to the same status, honors and benefits. [Title 38 Sec. 1501, U.S.C.]
If you decide to abolish memorials and honors to our Confederate soldiers, because you have a political disagreement with the administration under which they served, you attack me and every other American veteran. Who's next? Will you or your successors then deface memorials which honor American veterans of World War I because they fought to defend a country which had a segregated Army and which prohibited women from voting? Perhaps you would like to deface memorials to World War II American veterans because America had a segregated Army. How about the Iraq War veterans — a war which Democrats claim was built upon a Republican lie. And, the top of your list would be to dishonor all of our Vietnam War veterans because your party took the view that it was an unjust war. I well-remember Democrats spitting on our veterans as they returned from the Vietnam battlefields.
Let me remind you of the closing words of Abraham Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural address to the nation, at which time it was clear that the Union would be victorious. He told the nation:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
The grievances arising from the War Between the States were resolved long before any of us were born. Why are you looking to re-start that war now?
U.S. Army Retired