After the Civil War, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant worked hard to reconcile the North and the South. Lincoln pardoned and restored property to all who engaged in the war, with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. Grant supported pardons for former Confederate leaders — seeking to maintain peace and economic growth — while also protecting the civil rights of freed slaves.
In 1898, President William McKinley held a “Peace Jubilee,” where he stated: “In the spirit of fraternity, we should share with you in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers. … Sectional feelings no longer holds back the love we feel for each other. The old flag waves over us in peace with new glories.”
In 1900, Congress allowed Confederate remains to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, designating Special Section 16 to them — and that’s where the monument stands.
Three years later, in 1903, the first Confederate Memorial Day ceremonies were held in Section 16. President Theodore Roosevelt sent a floral arrangement to commemorate it, a tradition that almost every U.S. president has repeated — even Barack Obama. (Mr. Obama modified the tradition by sending a wreath to Section 16 and another one to D.C.’s African American Civil War Memorial.)
Now, the radicals in our society are going to tear down the creation designed by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran and the first Jewish graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, who is buried beneath the statue. Its empty base and foundation will remain as to avoid disturbing the surrounding graves.
With the monument’s destruction, the reconciliation message that Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, Taft and Roosevelt advocated will be lost.
The statue’s demise will not unite but only further divide.