South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by
our Forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government,
as originally organized, should be administered in purity and
-- Robert E. Lee
Why do Americans
continue to remember their past?
it is because it was a time when truth was spoken.
Men and women took their stand to give us the freedoms we
now enjoy. God bless those in military service, who
do their duty around the world for freedom.
The Hall of Fame
for great Americans opened in 1900 in New York City. One
thousand names were submitted, but only 29 received a majority
vote from the electors.
Robert E. Lee, 30 years after his death,
was among those honored. A bust of Lee was given to New
York University by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Let America not
forget January 19, 2005, the 198th birthday of General Robert
Robert E. Lee was
born at Stratford House, Westmoreland County, Virginia, on
January 19, 1807. The winter was cold and fireplaces
were little help. Robert's mother, Ann Hill (Carter)
Lee, was suffering from a severe cold.
Ann Lee named her
son Robert Edward after her two brothers.
Robert E. Lee
undoubtedly acquired his love of country from those who had
lived during the American Revolution. His father,
"Light Horse" Harry, was a hero of the revolution and
served as governor of Virginia and as a member of the U.S.
House of Representatives. Members of his family also
signed the Declaration of Independence.
Lee was educated
in the schools of Alexandria, Virginia. In 1825, he
received an appointment to West Point Military Academy.
He graduated in 1829, second in his class and without a single
Robert E. Lee wed
Mary Anna Randolph Custis in June 1831, two years after his
graduation from West Point. Robert and Mary had grown up
together. Mary was the daughter of George Washington
Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and the
adopted son of George Washington.
Mary was an only
child; therefore, she inherited
across the Potomac from Washington, where she and Robert
raised seven children.
were slow. In 1836, Lee was appointed to first
lieutenant. In 1838, with the rank of captain, Lee
fought valiantly in the War with Mexico and was wounded at the
Battle of Chapultepec.
He was appointed
superintendent of West Point in 1852 and is considered one of
the best superintendents in that institution's history.
Abraham Lincoln offered command of the Union Army to Lee in
1861, but Lee refused. He would not raise arms against
his native state.
War was in the
air. The country was in turmoil of separation. Lee
wrestled with his soul. He had served in the United
States Army for over 30 years.
all-night battle, much of that time on his knees in prayer,
Robert Edward Lee reached his decision. He reluctantly
resigned his commission and headed home to Virginia.
would be occupied by the Federals, who would turn the estate
into a war cemetery. Today it is one of our country's
most cherished memorials,
President John F.
Kennedy visited Arlington shortly before he was assassinated
in 1963 and said he wanted to be buried there. And he
is, in front of Robert E. Lee's home.
Lee served as
adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and then
commanded the legendary Army of Northern Virginia. The
exploits of Lee's army fill thousands of books today.
terrible years of death and destruction, General Robert E. Lee
met General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, and
ended their battles. He told his disheartened comrades,
"Go home and be good Americans."
Lee was called
Marse Robert, Uncle Robert and Marble Man. He was loved
by the people of the South and adopted by the folks from the
Robert E. Lee was
a man of honor, proud of his name and heritage. After
the War Between the States, he was offered $50,000 for the use
of his name. His reply was "Sirs, my name is the
heritage of my parents. It is all I have and it is not
In the fall of
1865, Lee was offered and accepted the presidency of troubled
Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. The school
was renamed Washington and Lee
in his honor.
Robert E. Lee
died of a heart attack at 9:30 on the morning of October 12,
1870, at Washington-Lee College. His last words were
"Strike the tent." He was 63 years of age.
He is buried in a
chapel on the school grounds with his family and near his
favorite horse, Traveller.
A prolific letter
writer, Lee wrote his most famous quote to son Custis in 1852:
"Duty is the sublimest word in our language."
On this 198th
anniversary let us ponder the words he wrote to Annette Carter
in 1868: "I grieve for posterity, for American principles and
called Lee "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived."
Lee's life was one of service and self-sacrifice. His
motto was "Duty, Honor, Country."
Wit and Wisdom of Robert E. Lee", edited by Devereaux
D. Cannon, Jr. (1997) Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana.
Robert E. Lee", by Rose Mortimer Ellzey MacDonald
(1939 First Edition) The Athenaum Press, Boston. (1998)
American Foundation Publications, Stuart's Draft, Virginia.
E. Lee", by Philip Van Doren Stern (1963) Bananza
Books, New York.