YOUR VIEWS | Respecting The Past


To the editor:

Virginia seceded from the Union on May 23, 1861. On May 24, a number of Alexandria men gathered at the intersection of Washington and Prince streets and set off to join the Confederate Army and fight to defend their native soil. There is now a monument to these brave men at that intersection erected by their comrades long after Appomattox. There has been much controversy over the statue of the unarmed Confederate soldier facing south. Some have argued that it is a monument to a lost and shameful cause, an embarrassing blemish on our state and citys otherwise stellar reputation. Others argue that it is merely a traffic hazard and should be moved.

Im not going to waste my time trying to argue what the causes of the Civil War were. I will say that 11 states, including the great Commonwealth of Virginia, formed a Confederacy for several more reasons than just to keep their slaves.

However, this monument, as well as the four years that Alexandria spent as part of the Confederate States of America, should not be a skeleton we try to hide in our closet, or in this case, relocate to a more suitable spot. The men that gathered at that intersection looked out over the same Potomac and resided on the same Alexandria streets that we have all come to call home. When their city and their state were threatened, these men picked up their guns to protect their homes and their families. For most, this was probably the only reason they put on the gray and fought as Northern Virginia was certainly not mainly a plantation socio-economy.

My point is that this monument should stay right where it is. We should not complain of it but rather respect what it stands for. It does not stand for slavery or racism. The statue of that lone soldier simply stands to honor a group of men, a group of Alexandrians, that took up arms and left their families to defend the place in which you and I now live. I can only speak for myself, but I am proud of our citys Confederate heritage and I would be devastated to see that monument moved from the prominant position it deserves in Alexandrias history as well as our hearts.

N. Aric Sottler