I think it is important for The Baltimore Sun to remind its readers on how it reported the official dedication of the Lee/Jackson Monument on May 2, 1948. A crowd of 3,000 came to the Wyman Park dedication to lots of pomp and fanfare. I believe what was said then must be taken into historical context. The dedication words were spoken from the heart by two of Maryland's most revered politicians during the height of Jim Crow here in Charm City and six years before the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
Here is what Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., then mayor of Baltimore, and father of House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said at the dedication, accepting the statue as the official representative of Baltimore:
"World Wars I and II found the North and South fighting for a common cause, and the generalship and military science displayed by these two great men in the War between the States lived on and were applied in the military plans of our nation in Europe and the Pacific areas.
"Today with our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions.
"We must remain steadfast in our determination to preserve freedom, not only for ourselves, but for other liberty-loving nations who are striving to preserve their national unity as free nations. In these days of uncertainty and turmoil, Americans must emulate Jackson's example and stand like a stone wall against aggression in any form that would seek to destroy the liberty of the world."
What "sacred institutions" was Mayor D'Alesandro talking about "preserving" just over 69 years ago?
Then-Maryland Governor William Preston Lane said this about the "monument to two men who best typify the gallantry and statesmanship of the Confederacy."
"Our might is the sole remaining bulwark on which the free peoples of the world rest their hopes for remaining free, and to which they look for succor against the juggernaut of oppression, that is threatening to engulf them….[the monument] is symbolic of our unity of purpose, as a nation, to preserve those things for which our forefathers and those of our generations, have fought, and in the attainment of them, raised among us men of the stature of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson…..We honor here in this bronze, the character and the ability, the strength of conviction and the devotion to a cause, of two men who were great Americans, albeit they rose in this greatness and enshrined themselves in the hearts of their countrymen in a cause that was lost."
What "devotion to a cause" was Governor Lane speaking about?
Here is food for thought and a reminder: There is a statue dedicated to Mayor "Big Tommy" D'Alesandro in downtown Baltimore and, of course, there's that bridge that spans the Chesapeake Bay, the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Should we consider doing something about those monuments? I suggest absolutely not.