The Washington Post
The Lee statue’s removal
Regarding the Sept. 7 Metro article “Robert E. Lee statue to be removed Wednesday”:
Yay for Virginia! If the commonwealth of Virginia, once the home of the capital of the Confederacy, can address the false narrative of the Confederacy as merely defenders of states’ rights, so can others.
Thanks to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the Virginia Supreme Court, we now have a viable model for reckoning with the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow laws and the continued impact of racism.
Bernadette Wagner, Hagerstown
Though I’ve been a Richmond-area resident only since July, the removal of the Robert E. Lee memorial feels personal. When I attended fourth grade in a public school outside of Atlanta, the administration hung calendars on large banners in our cafeteria that listed upcoming holidays, school events and more. At lunch one day, I saw that a calendar noted Jan. 19 was Lee’s birthday. Just as strange to me, nothing was listed for Abraham Lincoln’s Feb. 12 birthday.
That evening, I wrote a letter to the principal asking why Lee was on the calendar and noting that, at the very least, Lincoln should be, too. I dropped the letter off in the office and went about my day. Later, I was called out of class to the principal’s office. I walked in confident I was going to be praised for identifying this obvious error. Instead, the principal dressed me down. Because time is hard on memory, I don’t recall his exact words, but I certainly remember how he made me feel: small and stupid.
I shared this story with my parents that night; the next day, my father went to the principal’s office. Lee’s birthday remained on the calendar, but Lincoln’s was added. A victory of sorts. I spent only a year at that school before moving and, more than 30 years later, it is barely a blip in my life. But I thought of that experience again as I happily watched the Lee monument come down.
The fourth-grader in me smiled. A victory of sorts, with a lot of work still to come.
Grant J. Heston, Midlothian, Va.
The Sept. 7 Metro article “Robert E. Lee statue to be removed Wednesday” quoted Gov. Ralph Northam (D): “This is an important step in showing who we are and what we value as a commonwealth.” No, it doesn’t show who “we” are and what “we” value. “We,” the commonwealth residents, were never consulted in the matter.
Aside from being undemocratic, Mr. Northam’s unilateral actions of Monday-morning quarterbacking centurieslong political and social complexities accomplished two things: the personification of self-gratifying arrogance with a whiff of superior morality and the greenlighting of iconoclasm in accordance with the populist fashion of the moment.
Robert Lazaneo, Fairfax