As the commander of the Confederate Army, General Lee fought against our federal government, as well as the founding promise of our nation to promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. Though I will not deny the Northern states’, including Ohio’s, own historical benefit from the disgraceful institution of slavery prior to the Civil War, it was the North that oversaw the national emancipation and Ohio, with its sacrifice of over 30,000 brave Buckeye heroes, was a crucial part of this. Although I will always assert that Robert E. Lee should be studied, actively discussed, and should not lose his prevalence in the American memory for the sake of understanding the mistakes and complexity of our national history, he should not be placed on publicly displayed monuments, especially in Ohio.
While I personally condemn Lee, I do not write this article as one of the many who have recently done so for the sake of shallow social approval. I write this article as a proud American, the direct descendant of Revolutionary and Civil War veterans, and the son of an immigrant of color and an Ohioan. I will never disservice our shared national history by reducing it to an ignorant and simple ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and I genuinely believe that examining General Lee’s life and choices will allow one to recognize core moral conflicts in our country that continue to burden us all to this day as well as develop a stronger understanding of others during this divided era. However, I cannot support the open display of this memorial of Robert E. Lee, and as the man himself had argued against the creation of Confederate monuments, I am confident he would agree.