Resident defends support of memory of Confederates

Abraham Lincoln said, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” So those who say that the Civil War was “all about slavery” are ignorant of what the “Great Emancipator” himself said.

The Civil War was fought to determine if a state had the right to break away from the country as a whole. It was “states are the ultimate law” vs. “the country is the ultimate law”.

In antebellum America, citizens were far more apt to consider themselves “Virginians” than they were to consider themselves Americans. We are not able to appreciate that in the 21st Century.

Then there are those who are of the opinion that Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were (and are still, even long dead, apparently) their enemies, merely because they were Confederates. Once again, this is mere ignorance. Both men were fighting to protect their home state of Virginia, which, as already pointed out, they considered their “country”. Their involvement in the war had absolutely nothing to do with slavery.

Shall we take George Washington’s name off every public building? Because the reality is that if that great Virginian had lived in the 1800s, he would have been a Confederate. Alternately, if his great-grandson-in-law (that’s Robert E. Lee) had lived in the 1700s, he would have been a Founding Father, as were his Lee family ancestors.

Arlington House is the “National Robert E. Lee Memorial”. So America has a memorial in honor of this man in our federal capital, but he is too evil to have a public school named after him? That’s absurd.

Let’s move on to Jackson. He began and taught, for years, a Sunday School class for all the black people, slave or free, at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. He taught them to read (which was against the law) because he believed that it was every child of God’s right to read His word for his or herself, not via an interpreter only.

He purchased two black teens he didn’t need because their mother asked him to buy them. He brought them to sit in church, in the pew with him, and was reprimanded by others who said they needed to sit in the balcony with the other black members of the congregation. His response? “My children sit with me.” No one ever dared to question him about it again.

When he was away at war, he would stop to send a letter with money in it back to the church as his “tithe to the Black Sunday School” and ask how his students were doing.

There is a church in Roanoke with a stained glass window dedicated to Jackson, placed there by the founding pastor, who had been first led to Christ in Jackson’s Sunday School class. Does this sound like a hate-filled racist whose name needs to be erased from buildings? There is no sensible, educated Christian, black or white, who has cause to see Jackson as anything but a loyal friend.

I challenge any Hanoverian, black or white, who is racist against all dead Confederates, with no distinction between them as individual beings, to educate themselves about the lives, words and deeds of these men, whose mere names they find so threatening.

Jennifer Horstmann

Mechanicsville

Benefits many with parks, transportation

In December 2018, the Hanover County Board of Supervisors voted to sell land that had been set aside for a multi-use park in the Cold Harbor District to the American Battlefield Trust. This was done to preserve land on which the historic Civil War battle of Cold Harbor was fought.

As part of that transaction, $1 million was included in the county budget to find a new location for this planned park. While I applaud the preservation of this property as open space, I believe it’s vitally important that the county continue to pursue the development of a park in the Cold Harbor District.

There are many benefits that can be realized when a park is introduced to an area that hasn’t had access to one.

A park can foster a sense of community as it brings residents together to participate in activities that they might otherwise have gone without. Programs can be offered on a wide range of topics to ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Additionally, parkland provides a safe venue for families to enjoy walks together or ride their bikes.

Having a multi-use park can provide economic benefits to a community that develops one. Property values increase when a park is introduced to an area that previously didn’t have one.

Local businesses, including restaurants, benefit from visitation and tourist interest in an area with a park.

Health care professionals agree that regular physical activity has lasting long term health benefits.

The introduction of new parkland increases the incidence of physical activity in a community and that community can start to see decreases in heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Active (non-motorized) transportation is promoted by access to sidewalks and bike lanes and I encourage the county planning commission to continue to make these features a priority for any new development.

I was pleased to see that in the plans for the new intersection at Route 360 and Lee-Davis Road, there will be sidewalks, crosswalks and signaling to accommodate walkers and bikers.

I urge residents that are interested in these efforts to make their desires known to their district supervisor and planning commission representative. There are steps that can be taken now to ensure Hanover County has the facilities and access that many communities realize is essential to their long term success.

James Doran

Mechanicsville

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