Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some more thoughts on Washington DC

If I think about it too long, I worry that my new desire to research Robert E Lee is a bit misguided. Should I be interested in the general who lead the charge to continue enslaving people in the South? True to my love of history, and in debt to my history teachers along the way, I have become reinterested in his life thanks to a recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery.

My 8th grade history teacher may be horrified to know that I forgot about Robert E Lee’s story. He was a West Point graduate. President Lincoln offered him the top job in the Union Army, Lee said no even though he didn’t agree with secession or the Confederacy which he mocked in letters before the Civil War. Why? His allegiance was to his home state of Virginia, and when Virginia seceded, Lee left the Union Army and joined the Virginia state troops. If that isn’t interesting enough, once the Union won, the land around Lee’s house (passed down from his in-laws who happened to be related to George Washington) was declared to become the National Cemetery, including a big monument in the family’s rose garden.

General Lee’s story makes me wonder about my allegiances. Slavery was and is wrong. Period. Lee, in my opinion, made the wrong decision. So the questions become – What is my allegiance to? What or Who in my life plays the role of Virginia that could sway my opinions and decisions so drastically? How can I show my concern and my commitment to people without giving them complete allegiance?

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