LEESBURG, Va. – A statue of a Confederate soldier that has stood in front of the historic courthouse in Loudoun County since 1908 is now being called inappropriate and a local lawyer says it should be removed.
The statue was erected to honor the war dead at a time when many Civil war veterans were still alive.
The statue shows a Confederate soldier standing guard with his rifle ready.
An inscription, carved into the stone monument, says, “In memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Loudoun County, Va. Erected May 28, 1908.”
UPDATE: It was reported on Channel 7 news tonight that the principal, Dr. Karen Spillman has resigned her position with Stafford County Schools. That should not come as a surprise. We can assume the resignation was a forced resignation. 9/27/11 11:30
There is a little more to the Banana Man story. After Banana Man was cuffed and headed toward a 10 day suspension, the student body at Colonial Forge came to his defense. Many T-shirts were made up saying FREE Banana Man. The administration at the high school forbid the students to wear the shirts and even confiscated some of them. The ACLU has now come in on behalf of the students of Colonial Forge High School in Stafford and has told administrators in Stafford County that they must allow students to wear their Free Banana Man T-shirts. The students had been forbidden to wear Free Banana Man T-shirts prior to ACLU intervention.
Of course, the school system can choose to ignore the ACLU, if they choose. The principal is Dr. Karen Spillman, former principal in Prince William County. She certainly is not getting community support or the support of her boss, as we shall learn later. In fact, Dr. Spillman has quite a record for stirring things up and turning a 1 into a 10 when there is no need for a 10.
Leaving My Marc Blog tells quite the story. Apparently this isn’t Dr. Spillman’s first brush with controversy. Remember the reporter who was arrested over the ducks at Woodbridge High School a number of years ago? It seems that one Dr. Karen Spillman was involved in that debacle also. Leaving My Marc reports the following from Freedomforum.org: [Editor's note- the Kelly Campbell story is a number of years old.]
Reporter Kelly Campbell went to school last week to finish up a feature on baby ducks and wound up in handcuffs and cooling her heels at a police station.
Students no doubt will be heartened to see someone besides themselves suffer under “zero-tolerance” policies afflicting the nation’s schools these days. But the reporter’s arrest raises legitimate questions about the ability of the press to perform its constitutional role and about the dismissive attitude of many government officials toward public accountability.
It all started when a photographer for the Potomac News in Prince William County, Va., saw a young person with a duckling at a baseball game last week and took a photo. She found out that the duck was part of a class assignment at Woodbridge High School.
In reporting a story to go with the photo, Campbell learned that biology teacher Douglas Pinion had 100 students take home two-day-old ducklings in an experiment about how they might “imprint” on the humans. She also encountered wildlife experts and some students and parents who expressed concerns about the welfare of the ducks. Her calls to the school to get further information were not returned. So she went to the school, where Principal Karen Spillman invited her into her office for an interview.
The Fort Sumter and Bull Run commemorative stamps are now on sale at your local post office. The stamps are forever stamps. Very neat. I ordered mine to avoid the lines at the PO and they arrived today.
We know who won the war. It is called the Yankee Battle of Bull Run rather than First Manassas.
Jennifer Buske has written an article about the area plans for the Sesquicentennial for the Washington Post entitled “As Civil War anniversary nears, Manassas sees a historic opportunity.” In the Friday the 13th article she writes what begins as an ode to deceased event planner Creston Owen and takes us though the history of the arriving at the Sesquicentennial. Included in the article is a comparison between the Manassas Battlefield and Gettysburg.
Any attempts to compare the two battlefields ended about the time of the battles themselves. Manassas is not Gettysburg and never will be, based pretty much on location, location, location, both then and now. Gettysburg pretty much is a dedicated battlefield. Manassas is a suburb of D.C. And here is the gist of the problem.
According to the Washington Post:
Playing off the excitement of the sesquicentennial, Corey A. Stewart, the Board of County Supervisors chairman, said he wants to begin branding Prince William as a military history corridor where people can stop at the battlefield, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the future American Wartime Museum. That attraction is scheduled to open in 2014 and cover every era of war from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over in the Valley and down I 81 lies the hamlet of Mt. Jackson. All of us have seen the exit. My dear friends Jane and Bob live there. They returned home after many years out of the area to settle into retirement with family and friends. Bob served in the Coast Guard and Jane served in the school systems in Tidewater and Prince William County. It is difficult to catch up with either of them because they are so busy. But I digress….
I recently spoke with Bob about his membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I wanted to know more. Many people think of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a bunch of moonshine drinking, beer bellied, hell raising, flag waving bearded old grizzlies who continually shout “Forgit? Hell no!” every other word while they pet their 10 coon hounds yapping at their heels. Not Bob and not many others.
Bob is one of the most genteel, educated, Virginia gentlemen I know. He does not fit the image painted above. In speaking to Bob, I almost got a mystical sense of a desire to stay connected to his past and his roots–not just stay connected but to honor that past and those roots. He and Jane both have a strong sense of history. There was an unmistakable message that we do not allow our collective regional heritage to be distorted and conveniently swept under the rug in favor of a more politically correct image of what we were not.
I share much of Bob and Jane’s heritage and I think it is important for all sons and daughters of the South to admit, like all Americans, those chapters of our history that are ugly and we certainly have some. But all of our heritage is not ugly. Much of it is good, gracious, and a great source of pride. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Honoring this past honors your family; those people who, in most cases, were just ordinary people trying to go about their everyday lives doing what they had to do to get along in the world they knew.
One of the first Decoration Days was held in Mt. Jackson at their local Confederate Cemetery. Soldiers from 11 different Confederate states are buried there. Very few families could travel to honor their dead. Many wars later, as we commemorate Memorial Day 2010, let’s go back some 144 years ago to a little place in the Valley:
Our Soldiers Cemetery was established in 1861 on land obtained from Col. Levi Rinker. The cemetery, containing about 400 graves, was first dedicated on 10 May 1866 by a memorial association. The entire community, including the nearby town of New Market and Edinburg, participated in the dedication of the cemetery. A wreath of flowers was placed on each of the graves. The ceremonies included addresses in the church by Maj. H.K. Douglas (an aide of gen. Stonewall Jackson) and others.
Because of the efforts of Raymond Watkins of Falls Church, VA, and others, the list of Confederate soldiers buried here is complete and there are no longer any unknowns. There are soldiers from eleven southern states buried here: AL, FL, GA, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
“The Mount Jackson Confederate Hospital’s Cemetery, now called Our Soldiers Cemetery, was dedicated on May 10, 1866 the third anniversary of Stonewall Jackson’s death. The “Memorial and Decoration Day” organized by the local ladies was one of the first such observances in the South. The service began with an address in the church by Major Henry Kyd Douglas, the youngest of Jackson’s staff officers. Afterward, a participant wrote that “ladies, gentlemen and children as well as many ex-Confederates, all carrying wreaths prepared the day before, marched to the cemetery ¾ of a mile north of town to place those wreaths on each of the 400 graves.”
Much honor and thanks to my mother, Betty, who taught her kids to have pride in their heritage during times when frankly, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do.
Resource: The Historical Marker Database
In today’s News and Messenger, there is an article entitled “Tourism agency preps for Sesquicentennial” which made for an interesting little read. PWC chairman of the BOCS did a stand up comedy routine as content for the piece. Let’s focus on some local news. First, the article from News and Messenger:
Tourism Agency Preps for Sesquicentennial
July 21, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, of the Civil War’s Battle of Bull Run, and tourism officials planning commemorative events are falling heavy on the theme of peace.
“We want to have a rolling series of events, basically for five years, because this is a national celebration and a state celebration,” the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau interim director, Sharon Cavileer, told Prince William supervisors Tuesday. Plans were to follow the state’s plan for commemoration and show the extent of the Civil War’seffects from a range of perspectives—from civilian to slave to soldier, both Union and Confederate.
“In Prince William, the sesquicentennial is an American legacy of war, peace and reconciliation,” Cavileer said, adding that planned events include a speech from a Nobel peace prize winner and a Peace Jubilee at the Old Courthouse in Manassas. On top of that, the key theme or message of the sesquicentennial is a proposed: “Where the battle began and peace prevails.”
That’s fine, said Chairman Corey Stewart, R-At-large. But less peace and more realism is in order, he said.
“I think we need to work on the message. The Civil War was not about peace. It ended in peace; it had to end in peace,” he said. “If you want to have a Nobel peace prize speaker, that’s okay, I guess. For God’s sake, I hope it’s an American.”
The CVB and sesquicentennial marketing strategists should not “water down” the realities and lessons of the Civil War to the point where it’s forgotten that this was a uniquely American period that ultimately led “to the uniting of the nation so it became the power it is,” Stewart said.
Apparently the chairman objects to all this damn peace floating about and he has done his best to make sure it doesn’t happen. One glance at the chairman’s’ record will give a bird’s eye view of his distain for peace in local government. He has fanned the flames during the immigration debate, he shouted anti abortion rhetoric at a V.O.I.C.E. meeting about housing, insulted vets over joining the Coffee Party, disparaging all the other members in his sweeping generalizations, just to name a few instances where peace in PWC seems unlikely.
Here is the new proclamation issued by Governor McDonnell. The bold is mine:
Confederate History Month
WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and
WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present; and
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history; and
WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and
WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “…all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace.”; and
WHEREAS, this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
Is the inserted paragraph an improvement or did it make matters worse? The Proclamation was issued at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Did any of them stop to think about the unintended consequences of this blunder?
I am not happy with the new paragraph buried within the ‘whereases.’ It sounds to me too much like the Governor is now saying slavery was the cause of the Civil War. Many historians, including those with Sons of the Confederate Veterans, would probably find that statement erroneous. Slavery was certainly factor, a strong factor in Civil War causes, but most folks agree that it was not the only cause.
We should acknowledge the Civil War as we enter the sesquicentennial time period. However, we need to talk about it with the sensitivity of 2010. And I have to say it, white people simply cannot tell black people how to feel about slavery. They just don’t have standing or the ‘right stuff.’ This situation is living proof why the heritage of Virginia cannot ever become political. Perhaps it simply is not up to government to keep our history alive.
Read Governor Wilders Proclamation from April, 1990.
Many past governors have avoided this topic. Governor McDonnell has issued a proclamation that April is Confederate History Month in Virginia. Here is the proclamation that is posted on the Governor’s website:
“It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present.“
The action states that “this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all.“
McDonnell’s proclamation heralds an upcoming anniversary April 17, 1861 which is the anniversary date that Virginia seceded from the union. McDonnell has issued about a dozen proclamations since taking office.
Perhaps it would have been more sensitive in 2010 for Governor McDonnell to have proclaimed April to be Civil War History month. Many young men lie buried here in Virginia who fought for the Union. 150 years later seems a long enough time to have divisive issues like north and south as part of our current dialogue.
Before anyone races over for the attack, let me state that I am currently looking at my picture of Robert E. Lee in my living room. I have had 2 dogs named for Stonewall Jackson, and my great-great grandfather was a Confederate soldier. Those are personal things that affect my family. I am free to honor our past heroes in any way I choose, from placing their likeness on my desk to naming my dogs after them. That isn’t the point. The point is, this is 2010 in Virginia. Sure, Virginia seceded and was a Confederate state. But, they had to fight someone didn’t they? One cannot study Confederate History without studying Civil War history.
The Civil War is still, even after 150 years, a very contentious subject. People are sensitive. The governor needs to be inclusive if he is going to tackle this subject for the sake of history. If there are other points to be made, perhaps they shouldn’t be and he should be more careful of the advice he is receiving.
UPDATE: The governor has issued an apology for an omission that mentions slavery. New Proclamation link
Multiple sources have reported that the Virginia Civil War Events, Inc has withdrawn its request to partner with Prince William County as an events planner for the Sesquicentennial in 2011. ‘Withdrawn’ can be a temporary situation. It can simply mean ‘for now.’
The BOCS had decided to revisit the plans for the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with this group in January.
No explanation was provided via our sources. It could very well be that the harsh reality of the extremely austere budget cuts Virginia is facing signalled that there simply is no money. Or…The organization’s chair could be revising his plans. Stay tuned.
The following appears on the December 15 Agenda for the BOCS Meeting: item A is detailed. Item B is currently unavailable.
You may access the agenda at the following CLICK. Choose current agenda.
A. RES – Transfer, Budget and Appropriate $77,353 from Non-Departmental Transient Occupancy Tax Funds to the Department of Public Works to Fund Expenses for 2010 Events and Programs to Support the 150th Sesquicentennial at County Historic Sites and to Match the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s STEM Educational Grant Request– Thomas Bruun – Public Works Department
B. RES – Consider Proposed Memorandum of Understanding Between Prince William County and Virginia Civil War Events, Inc. – Angela Lemmon Horan – County Attorney
Item A deals with the Prince William County Committee. It provides for TOT funds to be transferred to Public Works and itemizes what each amount is allocated for.
Item B is the Creston Owen group, Virginia Civil War Events. No mention was made of a presentation. The information appeared to be incomplete.
Interested parties should make every attempt to watch this section of the BOCS meeting.