Bruce Almighty of the Georgia clan recently sent me this thought-provoking article. I knew its contents but share them with you. I was born south of the fabled Mason-Dixon Line and am only too familiar with the War of Northern Aggression as we called it. No one mourns the loss of slaves. No one aspires to see the old South rise again from its ashes. Morons abound in this world. A flag does not a political statement make. A statue of Lt. General Robert E. Lee is not eternal testimony to slavery. A soldier, regardless which side he fought for, does not a racist make-then or now.
As for kicking and spitting on antique, inanimate statues-let alone tearing them down- I fail to see the satisfaction gained or what political statement has been vindicated or refuted. As we’re fresh out of living Confederate soldiers to hang for their crimes, I submit we are now reduced to beating images of long-dead Veterans on equally dead horses-neither of which had any druthers on slavery. Welcome to the 21st Century.
Congressional Support for Confederate SoldiersAt the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a move in the North was made to reconcile with Southerners. President McKinley was instrumental in this movement. When the Spanish-American War concluded successfully in December 1898, President McKinley used this as an opportunity to “mend the fences”.On 14 December 1898 he gave a speech in which he urged reconciliation based on the outstanding service of Southerners during the recent war with Spain. Remember, as part of the conciliation, several former Confederate officers were commissioned as generals to include former Confederate cavalry general, Wheeler. This is what McKinley said:“…every soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate civil war [sic] is a tribute to American valor [my emphasis]… And the time has now come… when in the spirit of fraternity we should share in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers…The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act and if it needed further justification it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just passed by the sons and grandsons of those heroic dead.”The response from Congress to this plea was magnanimous and resulted in the Appropriations Act of FY 1901 (below).Congressional Appropriations Act, FY 1901, signed 6 June 1900Congress passed an act of appropriations for $2,500 that enabled the “Secretary of War to have reburied in some suitable spot in the national cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, and to place proper headstones at their graves, the bodies of about 128 Confederate soldiers now buried in the National Soldiers Home near Washington, D.C., and the bodies of about 136 Confederate soldiers now buried in the national cemetery at Arlington, Virginia.”Remarks: More important than the amount (worth substantially more in 2000 than in 1900) is the move to support reconciliation by Congressional act. In 1906, Confederate Battle flags were ordered to be returned to the states from whence they originated. Some states refused to return the flags. Wisconsin still has at least one flag it refuses to return.Congressional Act of 9 March 1906(P.L. 38, 59th Congress, Chap. 631-34 Stat. 56)Authorized the furnishing of headstones for the graves of Confederates who died, primarily in Union prison camps and were buried in Federal cemeteries.Remarks: This act formally reaffirmed Confederate soldiers as military combatants with legal standing. It granted recognition to deceased Confederate soldiers commensurate with the status of deceased Union soldiers.[Editor’s Note: I might also add here that the opening ceremonies off every Sons of Confederate Veterans Reunion always include a welcoming address by the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic descendent organization…jim dean]U.S. Public Law 810, Approved by 17th Congress 26 February 1929(45 Stat 1307 – Currently on the books as 38 U.S. Code, Sec. 2306)This law, passed by the U.S. Congress, authorized the “Secretary of War to erect headstones over the graves of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army and to direct him to preserve in the records of the War Department the names and places of burial of all soldiers for whom such headstones shall have been erected.”Remarks: This act broadened the scope of recognition further for all Confederate soldiers to receive burial benefits equivalent to Union soldiers. It authorized the use of U.S. government (public) funds to mark Confederate graves and record their locations.U.S. Public Law 85-425: Sec. 410 Approved 23 May 1958(US Statutes at Large Volume 72, Part 1, Page 133-134)The Administrator shall pay to each person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War a monthly pension in the same amounts and subject to the same conditions as would have been applicable to such person under the laws in effect on December 31, 1957, if his service in such forces had been service in the military or naval forces of the United States.Remarks: While this was only a gesture since the last Confederate veteran died in 1958, it is meaningful in that only forty-five years ago (from 2003), the Congress of the United States saw fit to consider Confederate soldiers as equivalent to U.S. soldiers for service benefits. This final act of reconciliation was made almost one hundred years after the beginning of the war and was meant as symbolism more than substantive reward.Additional Note by the Critical History: Under current U.S. Federal Code, Confederate Veterans are equivalent to Union Veterans.U.S. Code Title 38 – Veterans’ Benefits, Part II – General Benefits, Chapter 15 – Pension for Non-Service-Connected Disability or Death or for Service, Subchapter I – General, § 1501. Definitions: (3) The term “Civil War veteran” includes a person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and the term “active military or naval service” includes active service in those forces.Researched by: Tim Renick, Combined Arms Library Staff, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Member: Brigadier General William Steele SCV Camp 1857.Gee, does this mean we have to tear down all those Union statues too? The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial? How about we impeach Gen. U.S. Grant posthumously? Where will it end? Idiot’s delight.Post Script: I found this on FB by one Debbie Warren:
Your history lesson for the day.
Robert E Lee was married to George Washington’s granddaughter. He worked with Grant during the Mexican-American war and became a decorated war hero defending this country. He believed slavery was a great evil and his wife broke the law by teaching slaves to read and write. After the civil war he worked with Andrew Johnson’s program of reconstruction. He became very popular with the northern states and the Barracks at West Point were named in his honor in 1962. He was a great man who served this country his entire life in some form or other. His memorial is now being called a blight. No American military veteran should be treated as such. People keep yelling, “You can’t change history.” Sadly you can. This is no better than book burnings. ISIS tried rewriting history by destroying historical artifacts. Is that really who we want to emulate?
As they tear down this “blight” keep these few historical facts in your mind. No military veteran and highly decorated war hero should ever be treated as such. This is not Iraq and that is not a statue of Saddam.
IN ADDITION:: Lee was also very torn about the prospect of the South leaving the Union. His wife’s grandfather, George Washington, was a huge influence on him. He believed that ultimately, states rights trumped the federal government and chose to lead the Southern army. His estate, Arlington, near Washington DC was his home and while away fighting the war, the federal government demanded that Lee himself pay his taxes in person. He sent his wife but the money was not accepted from a woman. When he could not pay the taxes, the government began burying dead Union soldiers on his land. The government is still burying people there today. It is now called Arlington National Cemetery. DO THEY WANT TO TEAR THAT UP ALSO ??