As a retired professional soldier who served in two wars over my career, I have a special affinity for soldier statues. I am as proud of soldier statues from earlier wars, as of those from the wars I was in. To me, they represent: valor, service, camaraderie, and sacrifice.
I am originally from Chicago, Ill., I don’t have any ancestors who fought in the Civil War for Virginia, but I find it utterly bizarre that there are protesters who think the Confederate soldier’s statue represents “Virginia’s slave holding past.” With only 5 percent of the population classified as slaveholders in 1860, there are not very many men who joined the Confederate Army with the notion they were willing to risk their lives to preserve slavery. The ordinary Confederate soldiers went off to war to fight for their state and serve honorably with men from their home towns and counties.
I find it shameful that in a Republic which cherishes democracy and freedom to express opinion and viewpoints, there are people now that want to tear down the past. This is what totalitarian despots have done throughout the world. Joseph Stalin said: “If you want to control a people, separate them from their past.” Very scary to think this can happen here.
Living in a former Confederate State with battlefields, and a town with a Confederate statue, and a house where Robert E. Lee lived in, is something that a person like me (a Chicagoan) revels in. To see the history standing tall right in the middle of Old Town is a treasure few towns in America have. Some people come a long way to see this history, so let’s leave the precious memorial landscape intact for tourism, for our history, for our simple enjoyment, and to respect brave men who gave their all.