Americans need to set aside icons like Robert E. Lee to live up to our potential.

Status
Not open for further replies.

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Messages
1,228
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
#1
"From my earliest days, Robert E. Lee felt close at hand. I attended Washington and Lee High School in Arlington, Va., and began my soldier’s life at Lee’s alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy. Today, if Lee still lived in his childhood home in Alexandria, Va., we would be neighbors. So it felt appropriate, when I was a young Army lieutenant, that my wife bought me an inexpensive painting of the famed Southern warrior. And from the wall of the many quarters we occupied over 34 years, Lee’s portrait was literally watching over me. Through the lens of military history and our seemingly parallel lives, he was my hero — brilliant, valiant and loyal.

As early as his days at West Point, Lee stood out. His classmates nicknamed the studious, near-perfect cadet the “Marble Man.” But over time, even marble’s flaws become more visible.

In the summer of 2017, my wife, Annie, urged me to take down the picture. Disgusted by the images of hate and white supremacy that had descended on Charlottesville in the form of angry, torch-bearing men, she felt that Lee’s picture risked offending guests to our home by sending an unintended message of agreement with the protesters who had sought to preserve a statue of the Marble Man. Initially, I argued that Lee was an example of apolitical loyalty and stoic adherence to duty. But as days passed, I reflected on the way that Lee’s legacy looked to people who hadn’t grown up with my perspective or my privilege. So, on an otherwise unremarkable Sunday morning, I took the painting off the wall and sent it on its way to a local landfill for its final burial. Hardly a hero’s end."

For the complete article see:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...e-up-to-our-potential/?utm_term=.45d96cfeb2f0
 
Last edited:

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
569
Location
Georgia
#3
From my earliest days, Robert E. Lee felt close at hand. I attended Washington and Lee High School in Arlington, Va., and began my soldier’s life at Lee’s alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy. Today, if Lee still lived in his childhood home in Alexandria, Va., we would be neighbors. So it felt appropriate, when I was a young Army lieutenant, that my wife bought me an inexpensive painting of the famed Southern warrior. And from the wall of the many quarters we occupied over 34 years, Lee’s portrait was literally watching over me. Through the lens of military history and our seemingly parallel lives, he was my hero — brilliant, valiant and loyal.

As early as his days at West Point, Lee stood out. His classmates nicknamed the studious, near-perfect cadet the “Marble Man.” But over time, even marble’s flaws become more visible.

In the summer of 2017, my wife, Annie, urged me to take down the picture. Disgusted by the images of hate and white supremacy that had descended on Charlottesville in the form of angry, torch-bearing men, she felt that Lee’s picture risked offending guests to our home by sending an unintended message of agreement with the protesters who had sought to preserve a statue of the Marble Man. Initially, I argued that Lee was an example of apolitical loyalty and stoic adherence to duty. But as days passed, I reflected on the way that Lee’s legacy looked to people who hadn’t grown up with my perspective or my privilege. So, on an otherwise unremarkable Sunday morning, I took the painting off the wall and sent it on its way to a local landfill for its final burial. Hardly a hero’s end.

For the complete article see:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...e-up-to-our-potential/?utm_term=.45d96cfeb2f0
He could have given me that painting.
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,535
Location
South Carolina
#5
"Americans need to set aside icons like Robert E. Lee to live up to our potential."

It's actually the opposite. We need to embrace our history the way we used to, and look back on the great men in our history as inspiration. Washington, Jefferson, and yes, Lee are some good examples of great men who had to navigate pivotal moments in US history. We can learn from all of them. I would venture to say that we have no one equal to these men in our society today.

A future where America is run by petty politicians and is nothing more than a endless landscape of retail chains and entertainment-obsessed people "holds no charm for me", to borrow some words from Lee.
 

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
10,731
#7
***Posted as Moderator**
This topic is generating strong emotional responses.
Please stay on topic and respect the opinions of others. Remember, discussion of modern politics and political controversies are not allowed. Off-topic posts will be edited or deleted. Persistent violators of our Community Guidelines will be banned!
 

jackt62

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
3,032
Location
New York City
#9
Interesting that Cullum Memorial Hall at West Point has displayed portraits of Union generals but did not permit the display of confederate officers. (Exceptions being Joe Wheeler and Fitzhugh Lee because they fought under the US flag in the Spanish American War.)
 

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Messages
1,228
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
#10
Why is this a news article? Who cares what this guy hangs on his wall? Maybe his wife just wanted the space to hang up her Justin Bieber poster.
My fault that I only included the part of the article leading up to the author's removal of the picture. The rest of the piece talks about how his perception of historic events and people changed over time. That is what I found most interesting.....particularly as he is a senior US officer.
 

Desert Kid

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
2,023
Location
Arizona
#11
Why is this a news article? Who cares what this guy hangs on his wall? Maybe his wife just wanted the space to hang up her Justin Bieber poster.
Because he’s a “woke” military man who is totally down with ripping down white supremacy and don’t you know Lee is totally personally responsible Edited? How dare he? Right!?
 

Nytram01

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
1,071
Location
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
#12
The morality of modern times is always evolving, and when examined from a modern perspective there are few, if any, figures of history who would emerge without some stain upon their character.

Edited.

Point is, nobody stands up to re-evaluation of their character through the lense of hindsight, but these faults made them human and humans are inherantly flawed creatures, it would be a good thing if we all remembered that - though I'm sure we're all guilty of a little hero worship now and again.

The problem with history as a subject, sometimes, is the tendency to lionize people and to raise them up on a pedestal upon which they cannot stand when a flaw in their character is discovered.

Lee is a perfect case in point. "The Marble Man". As the author of the article alludes to, he is held up as a perfect example of "apolitical loyalty and stoic adherence to duty" and considered honourable and admirable for this, so when his character flaws are brought to light his image is tarnished, he becomes all the more human for his faults, and he can no longer stand upon that high pedestal of the larger than life almost saintly figure the myth portrays him to be.

I would argue that this, in itself, is healthy and leads to a better understanding of the individual and the time in which they lived, but there is a danger now in condemnation without examination. That historical figures are condemned for their flaws and expunged from history and modern society to avoid causing offense, when the better approach is recognition and discussion, acknowledgement of their human faults and where the morality of their beliefs or actions can be found wanting and examining why they might have held the views they did and why those views are wrong to us now.

It always brings to mind that story of Oliver Cromwell who, after becoming the head of the Commonwealth of England, sat down to have his portrait painted. Cromwell was an ugly man - perhaps reflecting his ugly character - and the artist said he could touch up the picture and make him look handsome but Cromwell said no, the painting would show him as he was "warts and all".

You cannot take history, and famous historical figures, and simply censor the parts you dont like or find unpalatable from a mordern moral standpoint because it might offend someone. That wont change what happened, it wont change who those people were or what their beliefs were, and it would not help any one "live up to their potential" by doing so.

The old maxim goes; "those who dont learn from the past are doomed to repeat it", and I would argue that those who seek to cast aside the past fail to understand it or learn from it.

I'll finish with a passage written by the late Sir Terry Pratchett in one of his Discworld novels:

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.”
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,528
Location
Right here.
#14
"Americans need to set aside icons like Robert E. Lee to live up to our potential."

It's actually the opposite. We need to embrace our history the way we used to, and look back on the great men in our history as inspiration. Washington, Jefferson, and yes, Lee are some good examples of great men who had to navigate pivotal moments in US history. We can learn from all of them. I would venture to say that we have no one equal to these men in our society today.

A future where America is run by petty politicians and is nothing more than a endless landscape of retail chains and entertainment-obsessed people "holds no charm for me", to borrow some words from Lee.
I suggest reading the article instead of the headline.
 

WJC

Brigadier General
Moderator
Thread Medic
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
10,731
#16
***Posted as Moderator***
This discussion has lost its attachment to the topic and become mired down in modern politics, the Confederate Monument Controversy and contemporary political issues.
I am closing it to further posting.
When- and if- it is reopened, I urge you to be mindful of our Community Guidelines, stay on topic and respect the opinions of others.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top