Remembering the Contributions of Lee and the Massachusetts 54th
In examining the history related to the American Civil War, there are two significant entities that are worth remembering: General Robert E. Lee, commanding officer of the Confederate Army, and the 54th Massachusetts regiment. These two entities are commemorated in different ways, to assure their remembrance. Through The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration, Thomas J. Brown explains that their memories will continue to be preserved through a variety of different ways because their contribution to their respective sides of the Civil War was extremely important. General Robert E. Lee is, and will continue to be, one of the most prominent figures of the Civil War.
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The equestrian statue, which depicts Lee atop his horse, Traveller, is seen as an appropriate model to remember Lee by and drew much national attention upon its completion. "No Civil War monument dedication of the nineteenth century drew more national press coverage than the Richmond ceremonies for Lee." (Brown 96) Although this event spurred controversy between northern Republicans and Southerners alike, it continues to be preserved as a national symbol of Lee's greatness as a war hero. (Brown 95-96) Also, Congress went a step further in attempting to preserve Lee's memory by establishing Robert E. Lee memorial in Arlington, VA in 1925 and funded the restoration of his mansion as well. Finally, although Lee's views on race and slavery clearly affected his reputation during the entire 19th century, he will continue to be "revered by white southerners and widely admired by white northerners as well." (Brown 105) While Lee continues to be a symbol of Southern reverence and admiration, the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Regiment has become a popular symbol of racial advancement for Northerners and generally any socially progressive American. Its contribution to the Northern effort in the Civil War is so unique because it was the