Church that Washington attended for two decades taking down his memorial
George Washington was one of the founders of Christ Church in Alexandria, VA and he attended services there for 20 years. On one side of the sanctuary, there is a memorial plaque, acknowledging him. The other side of the sanctyuary features another plaque honoring Robert E. Lee.
Both memorials will soon be history. The church has decided that the memorials make some people feel "unsafe and unwelcome." They also believe that the markers are chasing away new parishoners. So they will be removed.
While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as “All are welcome — no exceptions.”
“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” the church leaders said.
A staffer at the church Friday said the decision was going to be announced to the church on Sunday.
For now the Lee memorial stands to the right of the altar and the Washington plaque to the left. The simple stone memorials, with gold-colored lettering, say: “In memory of George Washington.” and “In memory of Robert Edward Lee.”
The church also has small metal markers on the Washington family pew and the location where Lee was confirmed, but there is no other information or comment posted on the two men’s lives — and that’s part of the problem for the church, which signaled it fears commemoration without contextualization.
“Because the sanctuary is a worship space, not a museum, there is no appropriate way to inform visitors about the history of the plaques or to provide additional context except for the in-person tours provided by our docents,” the church leaders said.
It’s not clear that the church could divorce itself from Washington even if it wanted to. The website touts itself as “a church where George Washington worshipped,” and displays a picture of its famous patron.
The church claims they will find a new home for the markers.
“The new display location will be determined by a parish committee. That location will provide a place for our parish to offer a fuller narrative of our rich history, including the influence of these two powerful men on our church and our country,” she said in an email. “We look forward to this opportunity to continue to learn more about our own history and find new ways to introduce it to the wider community.”
And the two memorials at the church were erected at the same time in 1870, just months after Lee’s death. City residents paid for the memorials by subscription, and the placement of the plaques was momentous enough to merit coverage in newspapers from Massachusetts to San Francisco.
The deliberate, conscious destruction of our history is picking up speed and it makes you wonder what will be left. The ignorant, radical, hysterical activists who are pushing this destruction are not to blame here. It is the cowardly, the spineless, the little mice hiding behind political correctness and who are terrified of being out of step with the times that are fully responsible.
Disturbing these plaques, lovingly placed by townspeople to honor these titanic personalities in American history is sacrilege. This is especially true of Washington. Every historian of the last 200 plus years agrees that without Washington, there would never have been a United States of America and there certainly would not have been a United States that we would recognize. He was, as his best biographer Thomas Flexner called him, "the indispensible man" of American history.
If one were to weigh Washington's monumental accomplishments on a scale and place his faults on the other side, how lopsided do you think the scales would tip in favor of his world-historical deeds? But we're not talking about fairness or good judgment. We're talking about the raw exercise of power by people who want to remove Washington from history for no other reason than they are capable of doing so.
I am not an "America: Love it or leave it" sort of person. But for God's sake, if you can't leave Washington alone, why oh why do you want to live in this country?