The statue of a General, the stature of a man 3

It is seldom that we draw attention to something that happened in a church.

Today we do, because we are against the destruction of historical monuments, and destroying monuments is what ignorant mobs are doing in the name of anti-racism. It is sheer philistine vandalism.

Breitbart reports:

A judge in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday temporarily blocked Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to tear down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has towered over a traffic circle since it was erected 130 years ago.

General Robert E. Lee is a towering figure in American history.

Was he an incurable racist? Was he unwilling to accept the consequences of the defeat of the Confederacy, whose soldiers he had led in the civil war?

If the following story is true, then the opposite was the case. We quote from Praying with Robert E. Lee by Joseph Pierro:

As was true of all Southern whites, those living in Richmond, Virginia, were struggling to come to terms with their changed circumstances in the spring of 1865. In the space of only a few weeks, they had witnessed the total collapse of their political, economic and social order. …

Congregants gathered inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church one Sunday in June for weekly services. One of those in attendance, having walked from his Franklin Street home around the corner from the church, was Robert E. Lee.

Presiding over the devotions was the Rev. Dr. Charles Minnegerode, the church’s rector for almost a decade. …

Now, as Minnegerode … attempted to administer the sacrament, upheavals in temporal affairs elbowed their way once more into the spiritual domain. When the front ranks of the congregation rose from their seats, a well-dressed black man advanced to the altar and knelt before the railing to receive Communion. In that instant, centuries-old conventions of racial hierarchy and social propriety were being cast aside, and it literally paralyzed the attendees. There was absolute silence in the church for some moments, as the remainder of the communicants remained fixed in their seats. Minnegerode himself stood motionless, uncertain how to respond to this sudden, palpable demonstration of all that Confederate defeat signified.

Then, without a word, General Lee rose from his family pew midway down the length of the church on its eastern side. He strode down the aisle to the chancel rail and kneeled reverently alongside the stranger. The lesson was unmistakable and the effect magical. The living embodiment of the South had pronounced by his action an acceptance of racial coexistence, rejecting the differences between black and white in favor of a shared Christian identity. Lee’s fellow parishioners, who moments before would have recoiled at such a suggestion, followed their old commander’s example and began to do likewise.

The story appears in numerous biographies. It fits comfortably within the larger narrative of Lee as the symbol of sectional reconciliation, the Virginian-turned-American, the reluctant warrior who, having failed to lead his people to victory, demonstrated by his public behavior a willing acceptance of postwar realities.

We wish we knew the name of the intrepid black man. We have searched for it without success. He too deserves to be remembered.

Why not with a monument?

Posted under Civil war, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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