Update: The Virginia Flaggers never fail to disappoint. Their response to this story is oh so predictable. And they wonder why no one takes them seriously.
In his convocation address yesterday at Washington & Lee University, President Ken Ruscio reflected on his decision to remove Confederate flags from inside Lee Chapel. At one point Ruscio shared a letter he received from an Alumnus of the Class of 1949.
I have been following the issues…. I write to offer my unqualified endorsement of your response to those issues — especially your forceful support of my great-grandfather’s presidency of Washington College and your plans for the Confederate battle flags…
I believe that the five years he spent as Washington College’s president were as important to him as they were to the college. His passion for using his position there to help heal the wounds of war was apparent through both his words and deeds.
Based on everything I have heard or read, it is clear to me that President Lee would wholeheartedly support your goals of making Washington and Lee a welcoming environment for all students who choose to come there today. As a proud alumnus, I, too, support those goals.
In my view, removing the flags from the statuary chamber is overdue…. At the same time, we should not simply ignore the flags and their undeniable historical significance. Your plan of returning the actual battle flags to the Lee Chapel Museum is the ideal way to study and care for these important artifacts.
I am proud of my alma mater. I am certain that my great-grandfather would be proud of the institution he once led. And I know he would appreciate the civil manner in which you have approached what must be emotional discussions. But most important of all, I trust that today’s students will be reminded of just how important the University’s core values are. In my opinion, the qualities of honor, responsibility, civility, service and leadership that Washington and Lee instills in each generation of students are just as important as the exceptional education it provides.
Please know that you have my full support and my best wishes.
That alumnus just happens to be Robert E. Lee IV.
Beyond the protests of the local SCV and the Virginia Flaggers both students and alumni appear, with few exceptions, to have accepted the president’s decision. W&L student body president Lucy Wade said:
I was glad he brought it up. I think a lot of people are afraid that people push away criticism, but I don’t think he does that. I think there are still things that need to be addressed. He’s facing it head-on.
No doubt their position will look even more ridiculous once the school begins displaying real Confederate flags in the museum section of the chapel.
It’s unclear how the SCV and the Flaggers will spin the above letter, but as we’ve seen in the past their list of scalawags knows no boundaries. Welcome home, Mr. Lee.