On October 4, 2020, I visited the George C. Marshall Center, the Stonewall Jackson House, the Virginia Military Institute, the chapel where General Robert Edward Lee used to attend within the Washington and Lee University, in addition to the gravesite of Stonewall Jackson in Lexington, Virginia.
On December 7, 2020, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Stonewall Jackson statute in front of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which was sculpted by a former VMI Cadet Moses Jacob Ezekiel, was removed and relocated the the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Members of the public, at large, seem to have forgotten that Stonewall Jackson was a unionist before the war began and that he stopped cadets at the institute from firing their weapons on pro-Union protestors within the town of Lexington. Union colonel Robert Edward Lee was offered, by President Abraham Lincoln, to have control of the entire Union army after the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. However, Robert Edward Lee declined that position, before resigning his commission with the U.S. Army because, because he believed, as thousands of others did, that his state was his “country”. Members of the public tend to forget that those who were pro-Union, before Virginia’s vote to secede, took arms against the union because they did not want to take arms against their fellow friends, family and neighbors within their own state.
We need to remember that history was not so black and white and the removal of historical statutes in public spaces is a huge disservice to that discussion, that could be had, with future generations of individuals seeking to learn the, “good, the bad and the ugly” within our national history.
The board at VMI is considering realigning the George C. Meade statute to the center front, of the barracks, where the Stonewall Jackson statute used to stand.