Last year a Patrick County, Virginia, judge opted to remove a portrait of Confederate General J.E.B. “Jeb” Stuart from the county courthouse.
That judge’s decision was likely related to the slaughter of nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Whether a political ploy or a knee-jerk reaction, Jeb’s removal from a place in which all should stand equal wasn’t misguided.
All individuals stand equal under the law, and Jeb’s picture casting its eyes over a black man accused of a crime, a black attorney litigating for his or her client or an individual seeking some sort of civil relief was wrong.
The confederacy goes hand-in-hand with slavery, as is proven by the constitution of the failed nation.
“No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
However one looks at it, when Stuart sided with the Confederacy he sided with the “right” of individuals of one race to own individuals of another race.
Other than a rare few folks who ignore mainstream thought, the notion of owning another human being has been thrown out as simply wrong.
Other than the lessons which were learned, slavery served only as a black spot in American history – a period of time in which we did the wrong thing. That smudge is even greater on those states who sought to continue to exercise their might over an entire race of people after others had remedied the situation.
Jeb stood against the rights of people who were unwillingly ripped from their homes and placed into a life of servitude when he signed onto the Confederate cause.
Stuart’s decisions make his portrait unfitting to hang in any place which is in existence to ensure the Constitution of the United States is followed and applied equally to all who enter its doors.
That stated, the general does have a rightful place in history. After all, the town is named after him.
As a combat veteran myself, I can’t help but also believe he has a rightful place of honor. Whether it was right or wrong, whether he won or lost, Jeb Stuart laid down his life for a cause in which he believed.
There’s honor in that. A lot of honor in that.
Jeb’s new place was found at the Patrick County administration building. In the basement of that building, pictures of soldiers who have fallen in combat line the walls.
Some are soldiers who have fought for the ideals and the way of life for which the United States of America is the world’s standard-bearer.
Others fell for the Confederacy, which – at least on one issue – directly opposed American values.
However, a difference in views should not serve to lessen the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior. That willingness to serve – to fight and die for a cause – is what keeps Americans free. It’s what allowed America to become great, and it’s what maintains America’s greatness today.
Every soldier has a story. I’m not entirely sure what General Stuart’s was. However, I think his portrait and his story’s addition to a wall commemorating those who have fought and died for a cause ought to be welcomed among Patrick County residents.
A portrait of any Confederate general in a courthouse – a place which should embody the very principles which make each and every person equal in the eyes of the law – is wrong.
Folks ought to applaud that judge for sending Jeb on his merry way, but they also ought to applaud the people who made sure Jeb is hanging on the wall in a place which serves to commemorate his service and his ultimate sacrifice.
His new home is the perfect place.
Even when opinions differ, nobody ought to ignore or downplay the service of a soldier who has fallen in the line of duty.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.