QUESTION #1: As a history teacher, please share with us some of your knowledge about General Robert E. Lee and why it would be a travesty to erase even the difficult parts of American history?


Dan Kistler:

“…as I was watching all this play out I was actually in South Carolina, down in Charleston, whenever I first saw the stories about what was going on in Charlottesville, and, of course, South Carolina’s the first state to secede from the Union and started the Civil War. As I was watching all that the thing that hit me as a history teacher is this, people may disagree with Robert E. Lee on certain issues and so forth, but my point I wanted to make today and I thought about as I watched this play out on Saturday is what the majority of American people are not aware of or ignoring is the godly character of General Lee.

I commented to Dave last night, we were on the phone, and I commented about a letter that he wrote to his daughter detailing in great detail the struggle he went through when Virginia joined the Confederacy and of course left the Union. The struggle he went through as a federal officer whether he was going to stay with the Union or whether he was going to defend his state of Virginia. He wrote his daughter an amazing letter. I don’t have it right in front of me, but the gist of it is the struggle and the prayer and everything that he went into to make the decision that he finally made of course to defend his state of Virginia and be part of the Confederacy. He had to give up a federal officer’s position in order to do that.

You are very well aware, and I hope most Americans are, that Arlington Cemetery there right outside of DC was Robert E. Lee’s home. Of course, the Union buried soldiers there knowing that if they did that Lee would never return back there to his home and sure enough he didn’t. The home there at the top of the hill is actually his house and you can actually go through that. I’ve been through it many times, been to Arlington many times. As I was watching all this play out I thought if we keep taking down statues of great, great men, maybe men that we disagree with or disagree with some issue they had or some belief they had, the point is we keep destroying our heritage when we do that, and what a godly man Robert E. Lee was.

I’ll just mention a couple more things real quickly about him. When he surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, the Union Army showed him and his men tremendous respect because they knew what a godly man he was. They allowed him to keep his sidearm. They allowed he and his men to keep their horses because they had to go back to farm, back to their homes after the war was over. That was just unheard of at the time, but that was done out of respect for the godly general that General Lee was.

Also, the Union Army went through five commanding officers. President Lincoln went through five commanding officers before he got to Grant and finally stayed with him. The South kept one general the entire war and that was Robert E. Lee. Of course, it wasn’t just Lee, it was Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, all three Christian men, men of great character. What disturbs me is if we keep attacking these men … I think it’s a plan to destroy our heritage and to destroy particularly the godly heritage this nation has. To me, that’s the issue that not a lot of people have been talking about and that disturbs me greatly.”

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