Opinion: Not even Robert E. Lee supported Confederate war memorials

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, the Robert E. Lee Monument is seen in Lee Circle in New Or
The Robert E. Lee Monument is seen in Lee Circle in New Orleans.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

To the editor: Most Southerners and many Northerners consider Robert E. Lee to be one of the outstanding figures of the Civil War period. It may then come as a surprise to learn that Lee opposed erecting war memorials. (“A monumental challenge: What to do about statues of the heroes of Dixie — and defenders of slavery,” editorial, May 4)

So insistent was Lee on extinguishing the fiery passions of the Civil War that he opposed erecting monuments on the war’s battlefields. “I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered,” he wrote.

Rather than raising battlefield memorials, he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether, according to documents at the University of Virginia and the Library of Congress.

Many of these memorials, statues and flags are part of our history. However, their rightful place is in museums, not as open reminders of a war fought over slavery and white supremacy.


Kenn Morris, Los Angeles


To the editor: Referring to Confederate monuments in the South, the last paragraph of your editorial states the sins of our fathers should not be hidden, mischaracterized or glamorized. The same editorial states that removing public monuments to slavery’s defenders does not rewrite or deny history.

You can’t have it both ways. The existence of these monuments to the South’s leaders is not a “celebration” of the Confederacy; rather, they are a part of the mosaic of our history, both the good and the tragic.


These monuments have existed quietly for more than 100 years without all the drama of the last few years. We should not allow pressure groups and political correctness to erase significant chapters of our history, no matter how odious they may be.

Robert Newman, West Hills


To the editor: Thank you for reminding us of our history and for underscoring the real reasons for the onset of the most costly human battle ever fought by Americans. While many people in the South continue to characterize the Civil War as a “war of Northern aggression,” it was not begun by the North.

And thank you for reminding us that the residue of the reasons for secession is still with us.

Judi Jones, San Pedro

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