Major General Cucolo, and all concerned persons;
Thank you for your service and dedication to America.
I awoke on Wednesday to news of portraits of Robert E Lee and Thomas J Jackson being 'removed'. Before I responded, I read the open statement by MGen Cucolo, and other media pieces, to discover the items in question were relocated.
The media is now abuzz with such stories, and for myself, a cause of concern. General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson is a distant cousin of mine, so the story makes it personal in effect. On a more intimate level, resting under the Arlington National Cemetery headstone #54-5669 are the eternal remains of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. CWO3 William E Bearden, who gave 48 years of his life to the US Army. A three war veteran, their plot is located between (Stonewall) Jackson Circle, and the (R.E.) Lee home of Arlington House.
The quotes from Carol Kerr " 'This person was struck by the fact we have quite a few Confederate images, [Lee] was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived' " INSTANTLY reminded me of an almost identical quote made on August 1st, 1960, by a Dr. Leon Scott:
"The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being hailed as one of our heroes. "Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?"
Dr. Scott's question was directed to President Dwight D Eisenhower, over his curiosity as to why the U.S. President had a portrait of Robert E Lee in the Oval Office. President Eisenhower answered the Scott query on August 9th, 1960 thusly:
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.
From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee's calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nation's wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained .
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
To the 'dialogue' that is said to be forthcoming, I wish to offer the above historical data for sincere consideration, and with it, the following items as well.
A partial transcript of the statements made at the decommissioning of the US Navy's U.S.S. Robert E. Lee SSB (N) 601 can be viewed here:
http://www.ssbn601.com/lastdays.asp The reason I offer this is the fact the US Navy had named a submarine after General Lee, and the words spoken on it's last day is very inspiring. There was also the U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson SSB (N) 631.
During the D-Day landings at Normandy in WW2, on June 6th, 1944, in the 1st wave on Omaha Beach was the 116th Infantry. They suffered over 800 casualties in the assault. They are known then as now as the "Stonewall Brigade"
The United States Congress granted in 1956 that Confederate Veterans were equal in status to all U.S. Veterans. A U.S. Congressional Gold Medal was given to the last 2 remaining Confederate Veterans in 1958.
In MGen Cucolo's statement http://www.carlisle.army.mil/banner/article.cfm?id=3289 he mentions a "George S. Patton Room". History shows that the young George Patton received his first education as a soldier from Confederate General John S. Mosby.
I could go on for a week with such facts, but shall pause here. I strongly and respectfully request the portraits of General Lee and General Jackson be retained, and forever displayed openly at your facility, that all this information be included in the upcoming dialogue, and shared with the individual whose musical painting maneuver has instigated the late media ruckus.
I appreciate your time and consideration of this important matter.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year