Via Faye, Belle Grove
Remembering Robert E. Lee: A Week-Long Observance
North Carolina’s Legal Holiday Observes Lee’s Birthday January 19th
Lee the Man of Honor:
“The public images of Lee are many. There is the young, handsome officer of the Engineer Corps, the dutiful husband and affectionate father, the fighting soldier of the Mexican War, and the world-renowned commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. And there is the peace-loving, quiet, fatherly college president. They are all Lee, all facets of the same basically simple, straightforward person.
Many of Lee’s best qualities came from his mother, for he hardly knew his father. Dr. Wiley says:
“He grew up to be more of a Carter than a Lee. The outstanding traits of the Carter family were geniality, devotion to family – they intermarried to a confusing extent – loyalty to community, and devotion to church. The Carter’s were traditionally religious, but none was fanatic. They mixed revealed religion and noblesse oblige in a delightful manner, with little thought of creed or system. Lee’s mother was a true Carter. She taught him to revere the Carter code, and to avoid the pitfalls into which his father had fallen; namely, recklessness, extravagance, debt and irresponsibility in business matters. She held up constantly to Robert the axioms sacred to the Carter family: economy, moderation, self-control, courtesy, gentility, honor and devotion to duty.”
It is these old-fashioned virtues which make Lee a symbol of all that is best in the Anglo-American tradition. He should be remembered not merely as Lee the soldier or even as Lee the educator, but also as Lee the man – the man of honor, the great gentleman, good and decent human being who others – even his enemies – knew could be trusted without reservation.
“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’s in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world “This was a man.”
(Robert E. Lee, The Man and the Soldier, Philip Van Doren Stern, Bonanza Books, 1963, page 254)