To the editor:
I am writing to strongly disagree with your contention in the Feb. 9 editorial, “An erosion of trust,” that the naming of streets and schools after Confederate leaders, or erecting statues in their honor, was by and large a segregationist statement rather than homage to a beloved figure.
You have to place things in their proper context. The Confederate statue on South Washington street was erected in 1889 to honor Alexandria’s Civil War dead. It was that generation’s version of our own Vietnam War memorial, both the one on the Mall and the one at Mount Vernon school. Many people opposed the Vietnam War, but we eventually honored our Vietnam veterans.
As for Confederate street names in the West End of Alexandria, you have to remember the city annexed the West End in the early 1950s. Civil War history was more appreciated and respected back then. The country was preparing for the Civil War Centennial in the early 1960s. Our presidents then were Civil War buffs. Harry Truman’s father was a Confederate veteran. Dwight Eisenhower had his farm at the Gettysburg battlefield.
Once again, it’s all about context. Let’s leave Alexandria’s history alone.
-Greg Paspatis, Alexandria