UNITED STATES – JULY 22nd: A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee stands in the crypt area of the … [+]
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In the early hours of Monday, Virginia’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. Capitol, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said. A representative from Northam’s office was present, as were Senator Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Virginia.
The statue of General Lee stood for 111 years in the country’s capital alongside America’s first President George Washington as Virginia as a contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state is entitled to display two statues. Lee’s statue will be replaced by one of the late Barbara Rose Johns, an African American who played a key role in the civil rights movement.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Called for the statues to be removed earlier this year and is now being moved to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond, Virginia.
Rep. Wexton (@RepWexton) praised the actions on Twitter on Monday: “Early this morning I witnessed the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the US Capitol. It was a historic and overdue moment. I am proud of that job
@RepMcEachin & I started this a year ago. We deserve to be represented by a character who truly embodies Virginia’s values. “
Senator Kaine shared a video about the statue’s removal.
Many on social media praised the decision to remove the statue. @vanbadham, offered the thought, “Can someone please explain why there was a statue of a traitor in the Capitol in the first place? He literally led a violent, seditious riot that led to the mass death of the patriots I don’t get?”
Physillis Randall (@PRandallcares), chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, added, “Across America people are awakening to a simple fact. All history should be taught, learned, understood and appreciated, but not all history should be celebrated . A statue is a festival. Take down the Confederate and Segregationist celebration. Take it down. “
Of course – and as expected – there were those who claimed that the removal of the statue was akin to the destruction of history.
Writer / educator Courtney Huntington (@cahuntington) was one of those who suggested, “Robert E. Lee was an American hero.”
Such strong feelings then sparked a firestorm of reaction, in which many referred to General Lee as a traitor for advocating the Confederate cause.
At least one user on Twitter, @ Kaziah60281583, discussed the concept of story vs. Statue, writing, “Stop losing your mind on everything. It’s a statue. It doesn’t erase history. There are many people in history books that haven’t got a statue. Their lives will be exactly the same tomorrow. For other people removing means more than your right to cause tantrums. “
User Max Bauer (@maximusbauer) also shared a level-headed thought about the statue’s removal: “Long overdue. This statue belongs in a museum, not the US Capitol. Robert E Lee was an American hero, and then he has to be Betraying the country and the President when asked to fight for the Union. Don’t erase history, just glorify “
Leadership Professor Ron Dufresne (RonDufresne) also noted, “I was told that removing honors from Confederate leaders would ‘erase history’. But here we are, 6.5 hours after RE Lee’s statue was removed and the Library of Congress always still has 360,921 resources about Lee. “
While it is easy to argue that removing a statue is akin to destroying history, those reactions and opinions that make history thrive in books and other research are remarkable. At a time when the nation is so divided and the removal of such objects usually results in such poison from both sides, it is good to see that the state of history on which it lives, regardless of whether the symbol is present is or not, is understood.
In this case, the mob did not demolish the statue and it will go to a place where its meaning can be shared in the right context.