On Friday my wife and I headed up to Frederick, Maryland to catch a concert with Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. This was my first visit to Frederick in a number of years and I have to say that I was blown away by the development in the downtown area. We did a little walking before grabbing a bite to eat and then made our way to the beautiful Weinberg Center theatre.
From there we headed to D.C. for the rest of the weekend. Yesterday was a beautiful day for a long walk so we decided to head on over to Arlington National Cemetery. We walked through most of the cemetery, including the area that was operated by the Freedman’s Bureau. You can find a large number of USCT’s, civilians, and former slaves buried in Section 29. From there we walked up to the Lee-Custis mansion and then made our way to the Confederate Monument.
My wife has never seen that monument so I did a bit of interpretation for her. I pointed out a number of features, including the decision to represent both Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri with the rest of the former Confederate states as well as the images of loyal slaves and what appears to be a black Confederate soldiers. It’s a wonderful representation of the Lost Cause at the beginning of the twentieth-century. In addition to the monument I mentioned President Woodrow Wilson’s participation in the dedication of the monument as well as his decision to segregate federal office buildings in the capital city at around that time. My wife and I talked quite a bit about our thoughts about the monument, which is what we normally do when confronted with such structures. Our instincts are to question and try to understand.
There was one other couple looking at the monument and although we did not exchange words I could tell that they were visibly upset with our comments. Perhaps they thought that this was simply a monument to the soldiers buried in a ring around the monument. If I had to guess they probably believed that what I was saying was disrespectful to their memory and service to the Confederacy.
Anyway, sorry for ruining your visit, but I do hope you learned something about the site.