Dear Professor McDonough,
This letter is in response to the article that was published in the March 9, 2016 issue of The Sewanee Purple regarding Confederate artifacts on campus, including art that cannot be moved. The monument honoring General Edmund Kirby-Smith was specifically mentioned. And, you asked the question, “…what does it memorialize and what does it remember?”
The Kirby-Smith monument neither glorifies the Confederacy nor the War Between the States. By hard work and the raising of funds for ten years, the monument was finally completed and dedicated by our chapter on May 16, 1940 to honor a man who had a remarkable military career that included graduating from West Point Military Academy. General Kirby-Smith was a well-loved professor at the University of the South from 1875 until his death in 1893. He also served as Interim Vice Chancellor and considered himself qualified for only two jobs–military and educational.
When our nation’s horrific civil war broke out in 1861, Edmund Kirby-Smith felt it his duty to defend his homeland, as did many other brave men. Before the war ended, he earned the rank of full general. General Kirby-Smith led his men with valor, integrity, and faith in God. As he was a devoted Episcopal churchman, he lived a loyal and noble life, and left his imprint on many.
And the question is, why should an artist be hired to make an installation to sit in front of the monument? What is offensive about the memorial? Why should the monument be hidden from public view? With deep rooted sentiment, many have expressed their feelings by saying that it is history and the monument should remain as is. Yes, General Edmund Kirby-Smith is history. Why deprive your students from the knowledge of him as a valiant soldier and brilliant general, and a respected and dedicated teacher in his educational profession?
General Kirby-Smith once said that he found Sewanee “the best place to live in, the best place to die in.” On April 1, 1893, a page in memory of the late General was entered into the University of the South’s minutes. One of the quotes from the entry: “Genial and simple, firm and unswerving in his duty, always the same…”
In a letter dated October 7, 1940 to the Tennessee Division president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Mrs. Telfair Hodgson, memorial chairman, wrote: “…And may this memorial stand for all times not only in the memory of the life of our beloved General of the Confederacy, but also as a reminder of this organization whose duty it has ever been to hold high the ideas of truth and honor.”
Ginger Delius, President
515 Wanda Lane, Tullahoma, TN 37388-2165
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