community affairs

Sunday Discussion: Alexandria’s Appomattox Statue (Open Thread)

For this week’s Sunday Discussion, a debate that began with the Confederate flag, then the Confederate flag on Virginia license plates now focuses on some of Virginia’s most iconic sights – the Confederate statues (see this link, this link, and this link for examples).

In Alexandria, Virginia, City Councilman Justin Wilson called the City’s Appomattox statue ‘problematic’ this week. The statue, erected in 1889 to honor Alexandrians who died fighting for the Confederate army, is protected by state law and only the Virginia General Assembly can order its removal.

On the statue is a plaque with this inscription:

“THE CONFEDERATE STATUE

The unarmed Confederate soldier standing in the intersection of Washington and Prince Streets marks the location where units from Alexandria left to join the Confederate Army on May 24, 1861. The soldier is facing the battlefields to the South where his comrades fell during the War Between the States. The names of those Alexandrians who died in service for the Confederacy are inscribed on the base of the statue. The title of the sculpture is “Appomattox” by M. Casper Buberl.

The statue was erected in 1889 by the Robert E. Lee Camp United Confederate Veterans.”

So, I’d like to know what you think. Should it be removed? Why or why not?

As always, feel free to sound off about this topic, or any other topic you want to discuss in the comments below.

Memorial to the Confederate Dead of Alexandria

(Photo by Cliff, on Flickr)

Lee Hernly, Editor
the authorLee Hernly, Editor
Founder & Editor
Lee Hernly is the Founder and Editor of Port City Wire, Alexandria, Virginia's best source for hyper-local news, opinion, and events. I live in the Old Town Alexandria area with my fantastic wife and son Sam. Oh, there’s Serena & Bea too. I’m so excited to meet new readers and see where you are from! Please be sure to leave a comment with a link to your blog so I can check it out!

Leave a Reply

avatar

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
AP
Guest
AP

It’s our history, and absolutely should NOT be removed. This is getting really ridiculous!
You can’t rewrite history, and isn’t the importance of history that which we learn from it? Taking down monuments/memorials will do nothing but store the flames on the issue, and is a complete insult to the the famous of those who died and for which the monuments and memorials were erected.

mirabella6
Guest
mirabella6

The charm of Old Town Alexandria is that it is a Historic City. There is History and a story behind every structure including statues such as this one of the unarmed confederate soldier. The statue is a symbol of all those Alexandrians who died fighting in the Confederate army and its location has significance of where the army united.
The thought of removing it is Preposterous! Why???

KTK
Guest
KTK

It should not be removed. It is a part of US history, Alexandria, and Virginia. If it is removed, what’s next-tear down Mount Vernon since
Washington owned slaves???? This is all getting out of hand. A piece of cloth and monuments did not cause a lunatic to murder innocent people!!

dutch
Guest
dutch

Well said!!!

Nancy Roepke
Guest
Nancy Roepke

The removal of this or any other confederate statue is crazy. It’s part of our history. Yes, the confederate flag is part of our history too. Put the flags in museums. I agree they should not be flown over public buildings; but tearing down statues is just over the top.

Phyllis Tetlow
Guest
Phyllis Tetlow

The Civil War was real. It is a part of history. Leave the statue.

Ronald Baumgarten
Guest
Ronald Baumgarten

I wrote this post a few years ago.
My views remain the same. This should stay put but can be put in context. http://dclawyeronthecivilwar.blogspot.com/2010/06/symbols-of-lost-cause-in-alexandria.html?m=1

Elva Fones
Guest
Elva Fones

QKEEP THIS MEMORIAL STATUE DO NOT LET THE CRAZY LIBERALS TRY To rewrite history, I am an 81+ year old woman born in Charlottesville and raised in Alexandria We ere taught to respect this statue to honor the men who perished in the Civil war. I am about to check out and regret leaving the mess this country is in to our children Obama & The Supreme court are destroying our country 1 statue 1 flag at a time.Our children are not being tauhistoryPLEASE KEEP THE STATUE

imagine the odds
Guest
imagine the odds
dutch
Guest
dutch

Wow! And that is reason enough to keep the statue! To honor a dying lady’s last request.

Benn
Guest
Benn

The obituary has her date of death as 6/27, the day before this comment was posted. The commenter stated their age to be 81+ — odd to be so specific, yet inaccurate; the obituary states her age to have been 84.

This is an interesting comment. I know Alexandria’s haunted, but hmmm….

Kiki O'Quinn
Guest
Kiki O'Quinn

I was born in Arlington and grew up in Alexandria. The statue is part of our local, southern and national heritage. Removing it is a vicious political statement from the left. How ironic when the Democrats were the leaders in slavery, segregation and to this day thriving on race baiting. The statue is a part of American history. It needs to stay. It does no harm to anyone. The statue is not a symbol for racism. It serves as a reminder of what we came from, what we sacrificed, how our nation grew and evolved. Removing the statue would be… Read more »

West Ender
Guest
West Ender

I live in Alexandria and I couldn’t care less about the statue. I just want to know when the Potomac Yard Metro station will be built.

Joan Bowie
Guest
Joan Bowie

When will this madness stop? Who is that statue hurting. Is every Conferate memorial going down because of politucs and knee jerk reactions. The racial sutuation is being exacerbated by politics and fear of violent protests by groups who are the real haters and racists. What is happening to our country?

Scott Byrd
Guest
Scott Byrd

First of all, it is not a Confederate “statue”; it is a monument, one which remembers those from the City of Alexandria who died in the Civil War. That point must not be forgotten, or else it will not be possible to have a complete and meaningful discussion about the “Appomattox” monument. Having said this, let’s look at this latest “controversy”. City Councilman Justin Wilson ignorantly said that “the nature of that memorial and the glorification of that cause I think is problematic” and that he doesn’t feel that “a statue honoring that cause” is appropriate. Has Justin Wilson even… Read more »

DMS
Guest
DMS

Scott… Intelligent, informative, and factually correct response! Good Job. By, the way, I’m from south Louisiana. There were a lot of confederate soldiers with the last name “Wilson”. Maybe Justin should change his name.

NWAlexandrian
Guest
NWAlexandrian

“So, it is highly unlikely that most of the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy were trying to maintain something (i.e., slavery) in which they had no vested interest.” Myth. Speeches by pro secesh speakers at the time emphasized the benefits of slavery to poor whites, in particular that it would save them from equal social status with blacks. Also do not forget that the South was still America, where many poor expected to become rich – just as today, if not more so. And many non slave owning whites benefited economically from slavery – as overseers, providers of goods… Read more »

nW
Guest
nW

“First of all, it is not a Confederate “statue”; it is a monument, one which remembers those from the City of Alexandria who died in the Civil War.”

Incorrect -it specifically says the Confederate dead. Any Alexandrians, black or white, whoi died fighting for the Union are excluded.

Cactus Tony
Guest
Cactus Tony

The minute Virginia (and the other states) joined the cause, they allowed the SC Declaration of Secession to speak for them. I highly recommend everyone read it themselves, but a few of my favorite passages: “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently… Read more »

DMS
Guest
DMS

Mr. Wilson… You are “problematic” and should never be re-elected.

NWAlexandrian
Guest
NWAlexandrian

This seems very different from the Confederate Battle Flag, whose use was revived in the 1950s as a symbol of defiance against segregation. I would however like to hear how african american citizens of our City feel before I take a definite position on this.

How those of you who use this to express vitriol against liberals, or to call for preservation of EVERY such statue (Is it really not conceivable that some should be removed ? How about those to Nathan Bedford Forrest?) etc are not doing honor to the South.

Lois Kebe
Guest
Lois Kebe

Keep the Statue if you like, but in the green space between King and Washington erect a statue of a black soldier from the same era.

Lois Kebe
Guest
Lois Kebe

Even better than my first suggestion, I propose that we erect a Slave Statue at the waterfront, to honor all the slaves that were ripped from their families and sold into bondage during the Alexandria Slave Trade era.

Andy
Guest
Andy

The confederate monument on Washington street is as much a part of Alexandria as Market square or Gadsbys or the countless other buildings and landmarks that make up our great little city. It represents an important part of our and the nations history and needs to remain exactly where it is. It is shameful that Mr. Wilson has chosen this issue to display political cowardice rather than true leadership. Thank you for highlighting this story for us and I hope it is the only time we have to hear about it.

jcfromdc
Guest
jcfromdc

This statue has been part of my growing up. It should remain.. How many of these Alexandrians were slave owner? Probably very few. Were they fighting for the “rights” of a handful of slaveowners? probably not. All this BS about the Battle Flag and monuments is a loot of PC BS. those are/were symbols to commemorate brave men, no matter what “cause” they fought for, states rights, independence, even the right (as it was back then) to own another person. Remember, FIVE border states and territories had slavery and they were in the Oh So Holy NORTH, where the jobs,… Read more »

RE Almanace
Guest
RE Almanace

I see no Confederate flag. Why the uproar? This was part of history — if we go on nitpicking like this — then ALL the monuments honoring all the war dead from the Civil War would be affected.

dutch
Guest
dutch

I knew it was only a matter of time before the PC Police came to our town. The statue on Prince Street is what it is. A historical statue which was erected to commemorate Alexandria’s fallen sons. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s a shame that some in our town, especially our elected town leaders, are now resorting to actions which may best be described as a form of a modern day book burning. Because make no mistake, this is what Mr. Wilson and those who follow him are attempting to do. They are taking a piece of history and attempting… Read more »

Carolyn
Guest
Carolyn

Ms. Kebe, I believe your idea is a fine one. I

Carolyn
Guest
Carolyn

Ms. Kebe,
Your suggestion is good.

dutch
Guest
dutch

I disagree with Ms. Kebe’s suggestion. The Confederate statue was placed there as a memorial by family and friends of the fallen. To just start erecting statues for no other reason than countering the memorials already in place, such as by erecting an object (the black soldier) makes little sense.

Just Me
Guest
Just Me

I don’t know why this piece was written as it was. Obviously those of you commenting didn’t bother to investigate what actually took place. There was no vote to remove the statue. There was a discussion about moving it to the Lyceum. So you hold off on your righteous indignation.

Cactus Toney
Guest
Cactus Toney

Vice Mayor Justin Wilson has to be stopped. He is ruining the very city that we love by taking unwarranted short sided stances on issues such as this. Removing or moving this statue is doing nothing to help repair race relations. It’s a monument to fallen confederate soldiers not a celebration of slavery. Why do we have to erase our history. Yes it was wrong but if we don’t remember things/learn from things in our history we tend to repeat them. I for one will not be voting for Wilson the next time he is up for reelection he is… Read more »

Cactus Tony
Guest
Cactus Tony

I will not abide by a fake, conservative Cactus Tony.

Have some imagination, sir.