Recalling Confederacy’s honor

Hank Martin
Albemarle County
April 18, 2010

It is often said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Consider the following:
In 1776 and in 1861, self-governing states, which had sought for numerous years to abide peacefully within a coalition, practiced their sovereign rights subordinate to the constitutional covenant with the central government and formally and peacefully dissolved their association with that regime. In 1776, that central government was Great Britain; in 1861 it was the United States of America.

The rebels had as their chief a Virginian. This Virginia retained a distinction of character and intellect that caused even his enemies to respect him. In 1776, that was George Washington; in 1861 it was Robert E. Lee.

Both Washington and Lee had as his cavalry commander another Virginian who had renown for audacity and spirit. In 1776, that commander was Gen. Lighthorse Harry Lee (father of R.E. Lee); in 1861 it was Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

In 1776, a worn-out rebel army stared down a superbly armed and provisioned warmongering machine of the central government for the purpose of accepting terms of surrender. In 1776, it was at Yorktown to accept surrender from the British. In 1861, it was at Appomattox, when Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

The similarities between these two armed independence movements, in which Virginia has been involved so intimately with, are striking. Many of the same Virginia families fought on the side of independence in both causes. In each case, they suffered the tragic expense of life and fortune. To pay homage to those Virginians of the 19th century is to learn and to appreciate their bravery and sacrifice, which constitutes Virginia’s rich history.

The battle was then, as it is now in the 21st century, one of individual state’s rights. There was a reason that neither Jefferson Davis nor Robert E. Lee was tried for war crimes. Their actions were no different from those 80 years prior.

As we celebrate Confederate History Month, let’s appreciate the bravery of today’s Virginians, leading the stand against tyranny. We are bearing a witness that is as equally worthy.

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