Governor McDonnell to Speak in Fredericksburg to Mark Memorial Day

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell will mark Memorial Day with an address at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, which contains the graves of roughly 15,000 Union soldiers.  Over at Mysteries and Conundrums, John Hennessy offers a brief history of the earliest Memorial Day observances, which were organized by the town’s African Americans.  This continued until the early 1880s when Confederate veterans accepted an invitation to take part with the stipulation that African Americans be excluded.

It’s worth asking, in light of April’s controversial Confederate History Month declaration, why the governor has chosen to mark this important day in a Union cemetery.  I am curious as to what he will say.  In fact, I think I may attend.  What do you think?

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7 comments… add one
  • Nat Turners Son Jun 1, 2010 @ 5:36

    I hope he didn’t blow it this time.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 1, 2010 @ 5:40

      I heard through the grapevine that he did an excellent job, which is great to hear.

  • Margaret D. Blough May 30, 2010 @ 22:03

    I hope Gov. McDonnell takes full advantage of the opportunity to redeem himself.

    Personally, I have always felt that one of this nation’s greatest shames was the abandonment of the Union veterans who were black, to the point that they were turned into non-persons in Civil War history and observences. “Glory” wasn’t perfect, but it did a marvelous service in helping to restore these men and their sacrifice to the national conscience and consciousness.

  • Brooks D. Simpson May 30, 2010 @ 8:34

    What exactly would you have him say, given the events of the past several months? I read his comments last month at the event Eric Mink mentioned and they seemed fine to me.

    The governor made a big mistake in April. I think the controversy that followed was potentially interesting, but it became too predictable. Let’s suspend judgment on what he might say and wait until he says what he has to say in a United States military cemetery. This is a land of second chances, after all. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

    • Kevin Levin May 30, 2010 @ 8:40


      I completely agree. In fact, as I stated in the post, I may drive up tomorrow morning. The governor definitely deserves a second chance and I hope he takes full advantage of it. Like I said I just posed the question. Honestly, I don’t really no what to expect. That said, it doesn’t seem far fetched to suggest that politics may be playing a role here. After all, he chose to come to Fredericksburg, Virginia which is a Union cemetery.

  • Eric Mink May 30, 2010 @ 6:30

    Last month, the governor attended a ceremony at the Civil War Preservation Trust’s Wagner Farm on Chancellorsville Battlefield. The park approached the governor at that event and asked if he would be the guest speaker for the Memorial Day program at Fredericksburg National Cemetery. He accepted the offer.

    Eric Mink

    • Kevin Levin May 30, 2010 @ 6:54

      Hi Eric

      Thanks for a great post series on the Chancellorsville Visitor Center over on your blog.

      The Wagner Farm event took place on April 20 which was after the controversy surrounding his proclamation. Therefore, my question still stands. It may be the case that there is nothing to my question, but it seems worth asking.

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