As of this writing, the Charlottesville City Council meeting scheduled for tonight, at which the proposal to eliminate the City Lee-Jackson holiday will be read, will "happen as scheduled". http://www.charlottesville.org/index.aspx?page=3544
Also as of this writing, we will not be attending. The region was hit with 6-8 inches of snow, and freezing temperatures tonight would make late night travel home treacherous for our folks, even if we could get there.
Yesterday, the Daily Progress published an article, which included several statements I had given them. http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/charlottesville-ordinance-to-remove-lee-jackson-day-expected-to-be/article_e25d5764-b617-11e4-aa33-1b701f108385.html
The typical slant of the piece is certainly not surprising, but we were pleased that several good points were made.
Last night, I received the following email:
From: Matthew Bowen <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 9:58 PM
Regarding the subject reference and related debate, I just took note of this quote attributed to you on behalf of the Virginia Flaggers:
Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015
"This holiday honors two American veterans. To deny them the honor and remembrance they deserve is to insult and dishonor all veterans."
Madam, your assertion is entirely incorrect. From the firsthand vantage point of documentary interview conducted with African-American veterans ranging from legendary units such as the 333rd artillery at the Battle of the Bulge and the Montford Point Marines to African-American veterans who served on combat units during the worst fighting of the Vietnam war, I can assure you with 100% certainty that, counter to your statement, they all in fact feel dishonored--to say the least--precisely on account of the persistence of a Lee-Jackson holiday.
Otherwise, know that I speak as well from the perspective of one who has a plot in my ancestral cemetery (Tate County, MS) alongside that of my great-great grandfather, who fought with the 42nd Mississippi Infantry. Indeed, as a small boy visiting with my great-aunt Jessie, I was ceremoniously shown the cherished family heirloom of his canteen with a musket ball hole in it, and told tales of his service. As such, I have carried my whole life a deep understanding of and respect for the Confederate veteran.
On behalf of the Combat Veterans Oral History Project, for the reasons stated, I beg that you refrain in the future from further unqualified statements such as the above.
From: Virginia Flagger
Date: Tue, Feb 17, 2015
To: Matthew Bowen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am afraid I do not know to what "unqualified statement" you are referring. Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson served in both the United States and Confederate Armed forces. I was raised to respect and honor ALL American veterans and that to insult one was to insult all. These men were, and remain, American Veterans, and as such, and considering their military genius, impeccable character, and devotion to God and Country, deserve every respect and honor, including the city holiday, set aside to honor them in Charlotttesville, Va.
Unlike you, I don't claim to speak "for" thousands of Veterans, but I can share information from a recent poll of American Veterans: "In May 2014, The American Legion Magazine asked its readers, website visitors and social media followers to select from a list of 100 beloved U.S. veterans. More than 70,000 votes were cast. The choices span our nation's lifetime." Among the top 25 beloved U.S. Veterans, as voted BY U.S. Veterans, Generals Lee and Jackson ranked #8 and #25, respectively.
No I can't speak for the Veterans you mention, and I wonder how you can make such assertions, with 100% certainty, or any certainty at all, unless each individual of hundreds of thousands of black veterans told you that, specifically, and/or unless you are claiming clairvoyance or omniscience? Ironically, many of these men you mentioned served in U.S. Armed forces that were not desegregated until 1948, a full 83 years after Lee surrendered at Appomattox. I doubt they blamed Lee & Jackson or any other Confederate Veteran for that injustice.
I will, however, speak on behalf of my four Great-Uncles, who, in 1941, left Virginia to serve honorably in World War II:
L-R, Granville David Jenkins, Wesley William Jenkins, John Sylvanius Jenkins, and Ryland Sylvester Jenkins. Uncle Granville was with the 24th Infantry in the Pacific. He was awarded a medal for bravery and came home to be killed by a drunk driver. Uncle Wesley was with the 2nd Marine Div. in the Pacific. Uncle "Tootsie" was with the 90th Infantry in Europe. He was the last surviving brother and died last year, at 95.Uncle Ryland was with the 9th (Army) Air Force in Europe.
They were the grandsons of a Confederate Veteran, and from them, I learned to honor and respect ALL who serve.
I am deeply saddened that someone like you, who has apparently devoted so much time to the good work of recording the history of our Veterans, would choose to make such prejudicial statements about Lee & Jackson, by speaking in favor of removing a holiday set aside to honor their memory. Had I not known of your prejudicial views and the endorsement (on behalf of Combat Veterans Oral History Project) of the removal of the Lee-Jackson holiday, I would have been eager to support your project, and encourage others to do the same.
Refrain from making statements such as what was quoted in The Daily Progress? No sir, I will not. As long as I have breath, I will continue to speak for my Confederate ancestors, who can no longer speak for themselves.
I share this communication in the hopes that any Veterans who read it and feels inclined, might share their views on the topic with Dr. Bowen, and to make like-minded folks aware of the formal and public stand taken against Lee-Jackson Day in Charlottesville "on behalf of the Combat Veterans Oral History Project".
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