January 21 will be observed as a state holiday in Alabama honoring the birth of Gen. Robert E. Lee, as has been the custom for more than a hundred years with closure of state and county offices. This is a holiday which should be meaningful to all Americans.
The Lee estate at Arlington, Virginia, was seized by Union troops during the early days of the War Between the States, and as an insult to the Lees they started burying dead soldiers in Mrs. Lee’s flower garden. Today the one thousand plus acre estate is known as Arlington National Cemetery, a site that is revered by all.
The controversy over this private property seizure lingered long after the death of both General Lee and Mrs. Lee, finally being settled by a five to four Supreme Court decision after which the government paid a son of General Lee a pittance of $150,000 for the multi-million dollar valued property.
General Lee’s citizenship was finally restored during the administration of President Gerald Ford in the 1970s. President Ford paid the following tribute to Lee with the following words.
“As a soldier, General Lee left his mark on military strategy. As a man, he stood as a symbol of valor and of duty. As an educator, he appealed to reason and learning to achieve understanding and to build a stronger nation. General Lee’s character has been an example to succeeding generations.”
Sadly, not many people know these facts of history. Lest we forget!