Thursday, January 28, 2010

The What If? Lecture

I'm not a true Southerner.

I was born in Washington, D.C. to a native Washingtonian and a Richmonder, so I wasn't raised to worship at the feet of dead white guys.

I do recall my Richmond aunt once referring to the great unpleasantness as the War of Northern Aggression and I couldn't wait to amuse my 4th grade teacher with her quaint Southern phrase.

So while I'm no more interested in Robert E. Lee than I am in any number of dead guys, I was one of hundreds at the VA Historical Society for today's Banner lecture on "Lee's Lessons in Leadership" by Andy Trudeau.

What made it particularly interesting was that the focus was entirely historically-informed speculation; Lee was supposed to have written the definitive book on the war, A History of Campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, but he chose not to do so.

Trudeau speculated that it was partly due to his full-time job as President of Washington College, part of a grand plan to prepare future generations of leaders.

But Lee didn't relish controversy and he knew writing the book would be a minefield, preferring remaining silent to inciting discussion on a subject he wanted left in the past.

Apparently, too, the eagerness of Southerners for him to pen the definitive war book was too much of a burden, especially since he was no writer.

According to historical records, Lee purposely chose to read no works on the subject of the war once it was over. None.

You have to respect a man who knew his limitations and although I'm no member of Lee's fan club, a man who took long walks in between battles, had a pet rattlesnake and was wise enough to leave the past in the past, is worth an hour of my time...even with the guy snoring two rows behind me.

Besides, lately I seem to be very much in what if? mode myself...

No comments:

Post a Comment