Last week, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia decided to have a magnificent piece of artwork destroyed. A statue of Robert E. Lee was melted down after being cut into pieces. The statue had presided over downtown Charlottesville for nearly a century. It was destroyed at an unidentified foundry “somewhere in the U.S. south,” per the Washington Post, which reported organizers are withholding the exact location for safety reasons. A community initiative dubbed “Swords Into Plowshares” plans to use the bronze ingots to create a new work of public art it intends to gift to the city.
“Now we embark upon an opportunity to create something beautiful and positive,” Jalane Schmidt, one of the project’s lead organizers, said in a statement.
I can only imagine what that will be.
One of my friends, Miss Teresa Roane, who was a curator at the Museum of the Confederacy before it was shut down, phrased it eloquently:
Friends contacted me today (Saturday) because they were upset about the melting down of the Lee memorial in Charlottesville. I thought I would share the end of my presentation “Robert E. Lee from Engineer to President.” I hope that this will give you some comfort and strength.
In conclusion, we are now living in difficult times. There are organizations that want to eradicate Confederate history and heritage. However, no matter how they may try, one cannot eliminate the memory of Robert E. Lee.
His presence is everywhere especially if one visits Fort Monroe in Virginia, Fort Pulaski in Georgia or views the mighty Mississippi River. His brilliant military leadership is still part of the curriculum in schools around the world. Washington College now known as Washington and Lee University was saved by Lee’s leadership. Most of all, he lives on in the hearts of the Southern people. I want to conclude with a prayer of Lee’s: “Help me to be, to think, to act what is right because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me.”
(Special thanks to Teresa Roane)