Letter: Wynne C. Saffer, Leesburg

Editor: I was born in Leesburg in 1949 and have lived in Loudoun County since then. During all that time, the Confederate statue has stood in front of the courthouse.

I remember attending August Court Days in Leesburg with programs on the courthouse grounds. I have enjoyed music in front of the courthouse at the Bluemont concerts. I never heard or saw anyone who was threatened by the statue.

I volunteered with the Loudoun Museum for Hauntings at the courthouse, and never saw a problem even though they told a story of a slave being drawn and quartered.

Two friends recently told me that they considered Robert E. Lee a traitor. I noted that Richmond was the capitol of the Confederacy. What other place is more appropriate for a statue of Lee?

I have been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans since 1985 after being invited to join by John Divine and James Harrison Monroe. My grandfather and great-uncle who operated a mill in Leesburg were members. My great-grandfather, who is buried at Mt. Zion Church near Aldie, and his brother, who is buried at the family cemetery in South Riding, were both Confederate soldiers. They were also slave owners. Their father owned 22 slaves at his death in 1841, and he owned 160 acres on Rt. 50 at Arcola. I was an original member of the Friends of the Arcola Slave Quarters, because I hoped to learn something more about my ancestor and slave ownership in Loudoun.

I have served on the boards of the Loudoun Museum, Loudoun Historical Society, Friends of Thomas Balch Library, Black History Committee of the Friends, Loudoun Civil War Roundtable, Mount Zion Church Preservation Association and Friends of the Arcola Slave Quarters because I care about studying and preserving local history.

We should leave the Confederate statue on the courthouse lawn. The judges and the Board of Supervisors have no plans to expand the courthouse there. The statue is in excellent condition having been restored by the Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 2007. The Town of Leesburg is not planning to expand or relocate the street there. John Flannery and Philip Thompson of the NAACP have called for its removal; and since the tragedy in Charlottesville, Gov. McAullife, Chair Randall, and Supervisor Umstattd have added their voices to the chorus.

Are we undergoing the second reconstruction of the southern states? The first reconstruction was created by the Radical Republicans in Congress. The second reconstruction seems to be sponsored by the “Radical Democrats.” President Lincoln wrote in 1865 in his second inaugural address, “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” Where is the charity of our leaders?

Enough is enough, let our leaders deal with real issues and let the past be the past. We do not need to create animosity over historical issues (slavery and segregation) that have long since been settled.

Wynne C. Saffer, Leesburg

5 thoughts on “Letter: Wynne C. Saffer, Leesburg

  • 2017-09-01 at 3:04 pm
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    I didn’t own any slaves and Flannery and Thompson picked no cotton!

  • 2017-09-01 at 4:00 pm
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    To say the least, this is a disturbing letter. Clearly, the writer discusses a “historical” perspective that does not ring true. What seems to come across is an admiration for the slave holding past of those who committed treason against the United States. This letter is just another example of why the statue should be removed, and turned into scrape metal.

  • 2017-09-01 at 7:49 pm
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    Well we all agree Laugh is disturbed. What does not ring true or do you just throw hollow statements out with no basis in fact.

  • 2017-09-02 at 1:19 pm
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    Leesburg’s Confederate statue is of a type common in southern towns. And; for that matter, in northern towns. It memorializes the local boys who went off to war. It makes no comment about the war itself or its causes or its aftermath. It simply says thanks to the young men who went off to war, in many cases to give their all. To declare that such a statue celebrates slavery or otherwise threatens anyone is simply not true.

    I understand the resentment that some – not all, but some – Confederate statues have caused. Statues to Nathan Bedford Forrest, for example, can not focus on the man’s undeniable military genius but must, because of his pre-war work in the slave trade and his post-war association with the execrable Ku Klux Klan, focus on those things. For that reason, I have no problem with removing from public venues statues to him.

    But there is a difference between him and the soldier statues such as we have in Leesburg. And there is a difference between Forrest statues and those to men whose memory may be looked at as purely military; men such as Lee, Jackson, and Stuart. In the current panicky atmosphere, it seems difficult for some people to separate the two ideas but they are different ideas nonetheless and we should not let the passions of the moment cloud our judgement in that regard.

    Remove and relocate the statues which reasonably can be understood to stir up hatred. The operative word there is “reasonably.” But soldier statues like the one in Leesburg should be left alone as it would serve no purpose, and heal no wounds, to move them.

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