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

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