Caleb Kershner

Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R) speaking to staff during a Loudoun County budget work session in March.

Supervisor Kershner, your suggestion that the Confederate statue on Loudoun’s courthouse grounds is “solely a tribute placed by loving family members to remember their fallen” is incredulous. If that was the sole purpose of the statue, it would have been placed in Union Cemetery, near their “beloved” family members. It was not. It was placed in the middle of town, on the courthouse lawn, in 1908. Context matters.

What was happening in Virginia in 1908? Did Virginia Confederates quickly concede that the south lost the war? Or did they erect memorials in prominent locations throughout the state, to send a message, much more about race and politics, than about lost loved ones?

I hope you agree that a courthouse is a place that everyone, regardless of race, should be treated equally. Can you imagine what it was like for people seeing that statue as they walked into the courthouse in the early 1900s? Do you really not see the message that statue, in that location, during that time period, was intended to send? If you don’t, I suggest you learn more about that era.

I agree that history is “not something you hide from or destroy.” However, there are ways to teach it that don’t honor mistakes or cause ongoing harm to those who have historically been mistreated. If you travel to Germany, you will not see statues of Hitler or Nazi soldiers in public squares. Many Nazi soldiers died in World War II, and most probably had families who grieved for them. Those are not reasons to glorify them in public spaces. The hatred and reprehensible things those kinds of statues represent have no place on public property. This is true, regardless of whether the ancestors of Nazi soldiers think they were just doing what they thought was right at the time or they thought they were just defending their communities. That is the substance of your defense.

You said that “attacking our historical landmarks … will only serve to reopen wounds in our community and set back race relations in our county.” It is impossible to “reopen” wounds that have never healed. These wounds have never healed because they were left untreated. The ongoing division and bitterness we are now seeing throughout our nation is because people like you, and those who erected that monument in 1908, still haven’t recognized the harm that slavery, Jim Crow laws, and ongoing systemic racism have caused.

You claimed that removing this statue would be placing us on a “slippery slope” and wondered “what’s next?” You suggested people might try to rename the Town of Leesburg. FYI, Leesburg was not named after Robert E. Lee. It appears you have a lot to learn about local history. Your use of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., to defend your position on this issue, was the height of hypocrisy.

This is not a “slippery slope.” It is, to paraphrase the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., the arc of the universe bending towards moral justice. As a supervisor, you have power to help bend that arc in the right direction. I urge you to educate yourself and vote appropriately.

Jill Weiss

Leesburg

(3) comments

stopit

Thank you for this well defended letter. Kershner does not know history.

Voltaire

Stopit—“A well defended letter.” Really? I don’t think so. There are many problems with it. First, Supervisor Kershner stated that the Confederate statue on Loudoun’s courthouse grounds is “solely a tribute placed by loving family members to remember their fallen.” There is no evidence to deny that the Supervisor’s statement is not correct. How do you know what the intent of the statue is? The answer is that you don’t but don’t let that stop people from making unsubstantiated conjecture. As to the location, if the intent, as the Supervisor stated was to be a tribute by loving family members to remember their fallen, then the location at the county courthouse would make sense as that is usually the most prominent place in the middle of the town and the placement there would show respect. Apparently, the letter writer should have taken a dose of her own medicine and understood that context does indeed matter. The letter writer then proceeds to continue make unsubstantiated blanket statements about the sentiment of Virginians in 1908. Unless the letter writer is psychic, she cannot really expect ANYONE to believe that she knows what was in the hearts and minds at that time. But that is what she does.

I agree with the letter writer that a courthouse is a place for everyone, regardless of race and should be treated equally. However, again, we go do the road of blanket characterizations and unsubstantiated conjecture. The letter writer does NOT know what people in the early 1900s thought what the message of the statue intended to send. To say that she does, is just conjecture and is wrong on many levels. Further, before the letter writer lectures anyone about this time period, she should study it herself before making claims without substantiating evidence.

Next, we get a discussion of Germany. The letter writer is again wrong. Yes, there are no monuments to the Fuhrer or his party. However, found in villages throughout the German countryside, TODAY, there are monuments/memorials for the men from their town/village who joined the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht/Kriegsmarine/Luftwaffe) who fought/died during World War II. Maybe the letter writer should study/understand the reason why these German villages did this instead of becoming sanctimonious and holier than thou.

Concerning the premise that “…attacking our historical landmarks…will only serve to reopen wounds in our county…,” it is valid. Robert E. Lee, for instance, stated, correctly, that there shouldn’t be any statues erected because they will not allow the wounds of the Civil War to heal and would slow the advancement of the nation. He also said that about the preservation of battlefields. The letter writer’s final statement is again but opinion and unsubstantiated conjecture.

amerigirl

Volt, from the start Kershner was wrong. It was not “placed by loving family members” it was placed by an organization that has placed many confederate statues in courthouses and other prominent locations to push their agenda. If you have read the background on the organization you can easily see their agenda. You don’t know if that writer has already studied about it or not. The author of this letter is very smart and versed and may know much more of the history of Loudoun than you and I combined. She did not say that there weren’t statues in all places in Germany, but you will not see statues of Hitler or N@zi soldiers in public squares. They are still some in museums also

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