It is a story that isn’t too unusual in our military community, at least not in the beginning…..
This man came from a nice family but they did not have money. When it came time for college, he opted for and had a chance to go to the military academy and did very well graduating second in his class. He was popular with his classmates and well regarded by the faculty. To shorten the story as much as possible, as usually happens at some time during a military career of honor, good character and high principles, a moment of decision came after 36 years of exemplary service to our country. His values, his morals, his beliefs, his priorities were all challenged and he was tested. He was between a rock and a very hard place. He did the only thing that he could honorably do, he resigned his commission and left his beloved United States and the army to travel back to Virginia and defend his state, his home, his family and friends against military invasion. He knew that it was being planned, he knew it was coming because his resignation had been turned in because he had been offered command of the troops scheduled to attack Virginia. This man’s name, of course, was Robert E. Lee.
I know he was not fighting to prolong slavery and that he was not racist for his time since he had quietly freed his slaves ten years earlier. One former slave who stayed with him through the war was named in his will and was left a large sum of money (for that era) for education. At a much later time this former slave (Rev. William Mack Lee) would author an autobiography in which he would describe Lee in glowing terms. He began preaching before the war and after the war he built at least four large churches and became a well known African American Preacher in Virginia. He had the autobiography printed in order to raise money for his current church. (I think he was in his eighties.) http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/leewilliam/lee.html
Robert E. Lee letter dated December 27, 1856:
I was much pleased the with President’s message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans and purposes are also clearly set forth. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race.
So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.
General Robert E. Lee, May 1, 1870
So, we now have people trying to tear down this gentle man’s statue. Most who could not hold a candle to how he lived his life every day yet they think themselves qualified to judge him? How much do they really know about him, other than what the talking points say? Why has it become so easy for fringe elements to tear down monuments?
This is becoming frightening!