…a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.
Robert E. Lee
I have watched over this town since 1924, and I have sat here, helplessly posed, as it fell bit by creeping bit to depths unheard of even after the War. I have watched the heart and soul of my fellow Virginians infiltrated by falsehoods, half-truths, and outright lies about the history of their own land. I have watched them agree with it all while condemning any who dare ask questions.
I have watched through these metallic eyes as the Commonwealth of Virginia slipped into the tight grip of the Federal government while her citizens forgot all loyalty to state and turned their eyes to Washington for one handout after another, handouts provided by a false currency based on nothing but the sweat, blood, and toil of our future. I have watched that future lose hope in itself as the past was ripped out from under it.
I have watched one fine professor afer another leave the halls of our University only to be replaced by those who espouse a foreign ideology. The minds of the students who came here trusting in the name of fair Virginia have been poisoned. I have watched as these young minds absorbed one twisted tale after another about their own past, the history under their own feet. The Truth is here, all around them, but they are taught not to look for it.
I have watched one freed negro after another turn into a monster, exactly what the planters feared. I have watched them scream about the hatred of the white man as they kill one another without a shred of remorse. I have watched them approach my cold countenance with hatred in their eyes and I wonder if they know I believed slavery an immoral institution and wanted it ended. I wonder if they know anything about their own past; for many of them act as if they know nothing.
I have watched whites, descendants of the rich and poor alike, march on my immobile, bronze form in a hatred to match that of the negro and I wonder if they know where they came from. Do they know anything about their own families? Do they know why I fought for Virginia? I fear they do not, for they have been poisoned by a false guilt. They do not even understand their own Constitution and many have never bothered to read it.
Just a few days ago I watched one poisoned soul after another line the streets around my cold form, lying in wait for those who would march into my shadow with the impossible hope of preserving my memory, my living past, their past. I watched a motley bunch of patriots who agreed on nothing but the importance of their heritage march through an angry throng, determined to reach me. I watched as the first wave held back the angry masses so their Confederates could simply express an opinion. I watched as those patriots were attacked and I watched them fight back. I watched the compromised officers standing idly at my base do nothing. I watched and listened as they ordered the patriots out of the park and back into the violent masses. I watched our Constitution destroyed that day.
I watched through bronze eyes as those called Left held signs calling for Love in one hand hurled bricks at those called Right with the other hand. I watched the Left scream about tolerance while assaulting those with whom they disagreed. On Saturday, August 12, here in Charlottesville where I have stood watch for ninety-three years, I saw madness like these cold eyes have never seen. I felt something too, for the first time since mounting this sculpted steed. I felt a stirring in the air, in my hollow heart. I am not the only one watching and listening. I am not the only one who feels change on the horizon.
Thank you, Charlottesville, for screaming so loudly. You have awakened something I feared to be asleep forever. Hope is not lost and the patriot will rise again.