This photo captures a moment when a ritual handshake marked a pause in our Civil War.
The Virginia Monument… marks the departure point of Pickett’s Charge, an ill-fated assault launched 157 years ago on July 3 on the final afternoon of that three-day battle. The monument, which depicts a mounted Robert E. Lee on a pedestal surrounded by seven Confederate soldiers, was started in 1913 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the battle… On the afternoon of that July 3,… old Northern and Southern soldiers gathered at a low stone wall called the “Bloody Angle,” where Pickett lost 3,000 men. The soldiers shook hands across the wall…
Ackerman, author of this piece, is a veteran of combat service in Iraq. His conclusion seems to me to imply a useful distinction between history and hagiography.
A Confederate monument removal process that respects graveyards and battlefields and acknowledges them as monuments to the dead to be visited by the living, is the quickest way to eradicate painful Confederate symbolism from our public spaces and reconcile the country.
(Elliot Ackerman, “The Confederate Monuments We Shouldn’t Tear Down,” NYTimes, 6-7-20)
(c) 2020 JMN