OP-ED: 141st Anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s death

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
OP-ED: 141st Anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s death
Do Americans know more about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara then they do about George Washington and Robert E. Lee? I have been told that some college students wear Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung tee shirts but are not allowed to wear American History shirts depicting Robert E. Lee, George Washington, the United States flag or Confederate Battle flag. 

Are young folks still taught about America’s past?

Every year, the Lee Chapel, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, presents a lecture and special events commemorating the Washington College presidency of Robert E. Lee on the anniversary of his death. The 2011 program, featuring Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., is scheduled for Monday, October 10. Dr. Robertson will give his address entitled “Lee and the Mobilization of Virginia Forces 1861” and is free and open to the public, in the Chapel Auditorium at 12:15pm. Robertson is a War Between the States Historian, Scholar and Author. See more information at.

http://chapelapps.wlu.edu/tertiary.asp?ID=40&Parent=43&NavOrder=1

The headline from a Richmond newspaper read:

"News of the death of Robert E. Lee, beloved chieftain of the Southern army, whose strategy mainly was responsible for the surprising fight staged by the Confederacy, brought a two-day halt to Richmond's business activities." unquote

General Lee died at his home at Lexington, Virginia at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, October 12, 1870. His last great deed came after the War Between the States when he accepted the presidency of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University. He saved the financially troubled college and helped many young folks further their education. 

Some write that Robert E. Lee suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on September 28, 1870, but was thought to greatly improve until October 12th, when he took a turn for the worse. His condition seemed more hopeless when his doctor told him, "General you must make haste and get well---Traveller---has been standing too long in his stable and needs exercise." 

Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Cadet William Nalle said in a letter home to his mother, dated October 16, 1870, quote

"I suppose of course that you have all read full accounts of Gen Lee's death in the papers. He died on the morning of the 12th at about half past nine. All business was suspended at once all over the country and town, and all duties, military and academic suspended at the Institute, and all the black crape and all similar black material in Lexington, was used up at once, and they had to send on to Lynchburg for more. Every cadet had black crape issued to him, and an order was published at once requiring us to wear it as a badge of mourning for six months." unquote

Read entire letter on Virginia Military Institute website at: www.vmi.edu/archives.aspx?id=5517

The rains and flooding were the worst in Virginia's history on the day General Lee died. On Wednesday, October 12, 1870, in the presence of his family, Lee quietly passed away. 

The church bells rang as the sad news passed through Washington College, Virginia Military Institute, the town of Lexington and the nation. Cadets from VMI College carried the remains of the old soldier to Lee Chapel where he laid in state. 

Memorial meetings were held throughout the South and as far North as New York. At Washington College in Lexington eulogies were delivered by: Reverend Pemberton, Reverend W.S. White--Stonewall Jackson's Pastor and Reverend J. William Jones. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis brought the eulogy in Richmond, Virginia. Lee was also eulogized in Great Britain.

Many thousands witnessed Lee's funeral procession marching through the town of Lexington, Virginia, with muffled drums and the artillery firing as the hearse was driven to the school's chapel where he was laid to rest.

Booker T. Washington, America’s great Black-American Educator wrote in 1910, quote “The first white people in America, certainly the first in the South to exhibit their interest in the reaching of the Negro and saving his soul through the medium of the Sunday-school were Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.” Unquote

The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans joins the nation in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. See more information at: www.150wbts.org
 Johnson is a speaker, writer, author of Book ‘When America Stood for God, Family and Country” looking to re-publish and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He lives in Kennesaw, GA, near Atlanta.
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