Time for change


I found the Roundup article about Wendy Rogers’ take on the Confederate General Robert E. Lee interesting. It reminded me of the different ways history has viewed Robert E. Lee and the Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

Lee was a brilliant general for the South. He was a tall religious man. His dress was precise. He looked like a general. Hell, even his horse looked like a general’s horse. He is remembered for being the primary defender of slavery and the Southern way of life.

Grant was short. He didn’t dress particularly well. He had a reputation for drinking too much. After many other Union generals failed to end the war, it fell to Grant to save the Union and end slavery.

Prior to Grant, the Southern and Northern armys would engage in a battle and then withdraw and regroup. Grant’s approach to battle was different. Unlike his predecessors, he understood that the strength of the wolf lies in the pack. He would attack and attack and then attack again. He didn’t allow the Southern forces to rest or regroup. The tactic was not pretty. It was very brutal, but it was extremely effective. He didn’t defeat Lee’s army as much as he bludgeoned them into submission.

President Lincoln gets credit for his leadership and oratory in freeing the slaves. The truth, however, is Lincoln’s vision required “blood and iron.” The hammer that made this happen was General Grant.

One 160 years later, history has treated these two men differently. Robert E. Lee, the defender of slavery, has a university named after him, a military installation and numerous statutes.

And Ulysses S. Grant: no colleges, no military installations and only a few statutes. Apparently, it is more important that our heroes look like heroes than that they defended heroic principles.

My wife and I will occasionally watch nature shows in which one will see a majestic bull elk being chased by a pack of wolves. Like most people, I used to cheer for the elk. He was the underdog. Now I don’t. I think maybe the elk is like the legacy of American slavery. And maybe, just maybe, it is time for it to die.

James Bruce, Payson

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