Originally created 01/19/98

Offers Lee as hero for next generation 011998 - The Augusta Chronicle

While the bridge to the next millennium is being built, America needs to take a look and decide what to carry over to the 21st cen-tury. In these frantic last days, let us not forget the children. They need an American hero -- not the so-called "role models," slack, slovenly and washed in mediocrity, that we have today.

To find the authentic American hero we have to look at the engineer soldier who laid the cornerstone of America's bridge to the 20th century. A man alive with integrity, courage, character, Christian faith and honor. Such is the American hero, and such a man was Robert E. Lee, whose birthday is today.

Gen. Lee was a patriot and a rebel, he was the son of a patriot and a rebel, his wife was Martha Washington's great-granddaughter. He fought in the Mexican war and as a colonel in the U.S. Army, Gen. Winfield Scott pronounced him the finest soldier in the world. Mr. Lee was against slavery, having liberated his own (really his wife's) long before the war. He was against secession and, for awhile, Mr. Lee was the obvious choice to lead the Union Army to victory.

But he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and entered the Confederacy. He would not take up arms against his native and beloved Virginia.

Even in defeat Gen. Lee was still the hero. He refused to wage a guerrilla war against the Union and saved America from the fate of eternal bloodshed and anarchy that so many nations still suffer.

Strip away all the myths and we still see the American hero. Proof of this can be found in an editorial obituary from the Oct. 13, 1870, New York Herald, only five years after America's bloodiest conflict.

"The expressions of regret which sprang from the few who surrounded the bedside of the dying soldier and Christian on yesterday will be swelled today into a mighty voice of sorrow, resounding throughout our country and extending over all parts of the world where his genius and his many virtues are known. For not to Southern people alone shall be limited the tribute of a tear over the dead Virginian. Here in the North ... we have long since ceased to look upon him as the Confederate leader, but as one of ourselves ... for Robert E. Lee was an American, and the great nation that gave him birth would be today unworthy of such a son if she regarded him lightly."

Those words are still true today. ...

T. "Woody" Highsmith, Evans


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