Letter to Editor: Retain Memorials

Letter to Editor: Retain Memorials

— To the Editor:

My great grandfather, Elmore Breckenridge Crump, died as a Union soldier in the waning days of the Civil War. His younger brother, William, was already dead on the Confederate side. They were Kentuckians.

My ancestor is buried under a simple stone at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery south of St. Louis. His brother, who died as a Union prisoner at Camp Douglas, Chicago, was first buried at Soldiers Field. His family apparently paid for his exhumation and his remains were shipped to Paris, Kentucky, where they lie, along with those of some of his comrades, grouped around a monument to their service.

After the war, my grandfather and his younger brother were raised in a Union military orphanage while their mother and her infant daughter lived with relatives nearby.

It took three generations for my family to recover from that war.

I have been a resident of Fairfax County for more than 40 years, during which I have passed innumerable times past the monument to Confederate soldiers at the intersection of Prince and Washington streets. It is a simple rendering of an unarmed soldier, his arms crossed, his head bowed and his hat in his hand, facing southward. The inscription reads“Erected to the memory of the Confederate dead of Alexandria Va. by their surviving comrades, May 24th, 1889.”

Known as the “Appomattox Statue,” it symbolizes the defeat of the Confederacy and commemorates the death of those who fought for it. As such, it seems to me quite appropriate.

On Sept. 17, 2016, however, the Alexandria City Council voted to evict the statue from its historic location to the lawn of an adjacent historical museum. Fortunately, in my view, state law prohibits that. It is my hope that local politicians will abandon their politically-correct efforts and let the dead and their memorial lie in peace.

J. Griffin Crump