Our veterans & values: How should we honor war dead?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-101109_Christ_Church_Alexandria.jpgHistoric Christ Church, Alexandria. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Veterans Day is Thursday this week, and we’ll mark the occasion by discussing veterans past and present. We’ll examine a new memorial that will be announced on Wednesday.

Today, we peer into the  past—to Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. I went to services there yesterday. This was George Washington’s church, and he owned one of the original pews. You can still sit in his pew today. Back then, it was known as The Church in the Woods because it was built in the forest west of the port town. Years later, this was Robert E. Lee’s church. The right or “Lee” side of the church bears a commemorative plaque honoring the Confederate general. The left or “Washington” side bears a similar plaque honoring our first president.  Still an active church today, Christ Church is a spiritual center of America.

What does this have to do with veterans? 

Consider the final resting place of 34 Confederate soldiers in the church’s cemetery. This burial mound is marked with a large stone bearing their names. These soldiers had been re-interred here 14 years after the end of the Civil War, moved from federal properties. 

Why were they moved at that time? The re-interment was due to the persistence of ladies of the congregation who didn’t want “our boys” buried on foreign soil—on Northern land. Hallowed ground for the soldiers of the South was Southern land.

How do we honor our war dead today? Do we honor our veterans when we do so? 

If you are a veteran, how do you react to the re-internment of the Confederate soldiers?

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