Sunday, April 22, 2007

Yet another parade

Yesterday afternoon a parade celebrating Confederate History and Heritage Month proceeded from the Division of Motor Vehicles on West Broad Street, then east on Monument Avenue, and it ended in Hollywood Cemetery. Why it started at DMV, I can’t say, but they picked a beautiful day for a parade.The photographs in this post were shot at the foot of the Robert E. Lee Monument, here in the Fan District.

The parade/march, coordinated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also commemorated Lee’s 200th birthday (he was born on Jan. 19, 1807). Since Lee is buried in Lexington, I’m not sure why the parade ended in the ancient cemetery over in Oregon Hill, overlooking the James River.There weren’t many spectators for the parade, at least not at this location. Instead of a crowd watching a few people march by, in this instance it was the other way around.As far as how I feel about such demonstrations, well, I’m used to it. I’ve lived in this neighborhood a long time. So, I’ve seen all sorts of groups use the stately Lee Monument as a rallying point. In the summer sunbathers and Frisbee-throwers will use the same area like it is a beach.

On just as a pretty day a few years ago a curious commotion was underway about the statue’s pedestal. About 25 adults were milling about purposely; some were propping large posters against the monument itself. Upon closer examination the posters proved to be pro-life propaganda.

So, why would anti-abortion activists be rallying in the shadow of a piece of heroic sculpture that fondly remembers a Confederate general mounted on his horse? Baffled, this scribbler’s curiosity got the best of him. To get a better look, I continued walking toward the proceedings.

In response to my inquiry it was explained they were there to picket an “abortionist” with an office in the medical office building, just across the street. Then, with that mission accomplished, apparently the group opted to take some keepsake photographs, using the oldest of Monument Avenue’s statues -- it was dedicated in 1890 -- as a backdrop.

Standing next to identical placards displaying a blown-up depiction of a bloody fetus they posed with easy smiles; it could have been a company picnic or a class reunion.

Today, I had to wonder -- how many of those in the passing parade would have objected to the pro-lifers’ rather bizarre use of the statue of old General Lee? And, how many would have happily joined them?

Two weeks ago, a stage for live music and judging Easter bonnets was set up on that same location, at the intersection of Monument and Allen Avenues.
Photos: SLANT

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