Your View: Appomattox statue is important reminder of Alexandria’s past

Your View: Appomattox statue is important reminder of Alexandria’s past

By Rev. Matthew Kozlowski and Danielle Kozlowski, Alexandria (Photo/Chris Teale)

To the editor:
While we realize that there has been no official call to remove or move the memorial to Alexandria’s fallen Civil War soldiers, we write to express our point of view, which is of deep appreciation for this historic monument and the story it tells.

As homeowners on St. Asaph Street, we have a connection to the statue at the intersection of Washington and Prince streets. Our home sits about 100 yards away, and we walk past the monument every day.

The statue recalls a critical moment in the history of Alexandria. As the nearby plaque states, this was the spot at which men of Alexandria gathered as they left to join the Southern forces in Virginia. They knew that Union troops would soon cross the Potomac River to take hold of their town. Our own home is part of this story, as the Union military governor of Alexandria, Gen. John P. Slough, used our house as his headquarters.

As we pass the monument each day, we think of the uncertainty of that time and the courage of the men who left. We imagine the burden laid on the women and slaves of Alexandria, who bravely kept the town running for the duration of the war.

We ourselves do not claim Southern heritage; we hail from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. But now as Alexandrians we are grateful to live in a community that values and remembers its past, both high points and low points.

We realize that images of the Confederacy create difficulties, especially as we reflect on racial injustice in America. That being said, we urge everyone to look closely at the monument in question. It contains no Confederate flag, nor does it celebrate a Confederate victory. The unnamed soldier carries no weapon. His gaze is cast downward in mourning. The statue is, in a word, conflicted, not unlike America’s own struggle with the history of the Civil War.