Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

Robert E. Lee Memorial Commission

October 23, 2006

The joint subcommittee created by HJ 710/SJ 382 (2005) to coordinate and plan activities relating to the 200th birthday of Robert E. Lee, co-chaired by Delegate Cline and Senator Hanger, met in Richmond on October 23, 2006. The members reviewed promotional materials for events in 2007, the 200th anniversary of Lee's birthday.

Stratford Hall, Lee's birthplace, sponsored an advertisement in the spring and fall 2007 Virginia tourism guide promoting the Lee Commission and the activities planned for 2007. Stratford Hall is represented on the joint subcommittee by Jim Schepmoes.

Brochure and Website

Staff presented templates for a brochure and website to promote activities related to Robert E. Lee. The proposed brochure will feature a map of Virginia and events open to the public, such as lectures and tours planned around the state. There are also events planned on and around January 19, Lee's birthday. The brochure will prominently display the Commission's website, www.relee2007.com, explain Lee's relevance and connection to Virginia and invite tourists to attend not only scheduled events, but also visit the many sites in the Commonwealth related to Robert E. Lee. The brochure will be produced with a grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The website will be the focal point of promoting events in 2007. It will include a comprehensive calendar that will be kept up to date as new events are identified and planned and will include detailed information about sites around Virginia such as Stratford Hall, Lee Chapel, Museum of the Confederacy, and Civil War Trails. Dr. James Robertson, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, volunteered to provide a bibliography of resources to include on the website.

Civil War History Events

Kenny Rowlette informed the members about Liberty University's 11th Annual Civil War Seminar, scheduled for March, which will focus on the many facets of Robert E. Lee's life. He also recommended that the joint subcommittee connect with civil war publications and reenactment groups to promote the various activities throughout 2007. The members also received an update from staff about the recent creation of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, chaired by Speaker of the House William J. Howell. The commission had its first organizational meeting earlier this fall, and will meet again in November. The commission has also established a website at www.virginiacivilwar.org.

Scholarship Proposal

At an earlier meeting, the members had discussed the possibility of creating a scholarship as part of the educational efforts of the group. A scholarship could either be for a high school senior, or a series of small scholarships or grants could be provided to assist schools in facilitating field trips to sites related to the Civil War for elementary or middle school children. It was discussed that the group was not appropriated any funds by the General Assembly, and that its authority to function as a group will expire in January, 2007. Senator Hanger and Delegate Cline, co-chairs of the joint subcommittee, said that they would discuss the idea of a scholarship for field trips with the Civil War Commission, to see if they would be willing to cooperate with such an undertaking.

Lee Statue Restoration

Senator Hanger reminded the group that restoration work had begun on the Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond. Kathleen Kilpatrick, Director of Historic Resources, said that once work was begun, it became apparent that the monument was in worse shape than originally thought. Nonetheless, they expect the work to be completed in time for Lee's birthday in January. Senator Hanger said he was interested in asking local garden clubs to "spruce up" the landscaping around the monument during 2007. Delores Smith, representing the United Daughters of the Confederacy, said she thought that some of the local chapters may be interested in helping with this effort, as they already provide landscaping assistance to the Museum of the Confederacy.


Dr. Robertson briefly addressed the members stating that he thought that the focus of the group should be on the education of young children about the life of Robert E. Lee. He suggested that something should be done to help call attention to Lee in Virginia's schools. He said that students today will be the leaders of Virginia tomorrow, and it is important to instill the seeds about the legacy of Robert E. Lee. He volunteered to assist the joint subcommittee any way that he could.

Other Business

Delegate Cline said that he had contacted the Homebuilders Association, which is located in the Lee House in Richmond, and that they would allow the joint subcommittee to host an event at the house on January 18, 2007, for the General Assembly. Delegate Cline said he hoped that an announcement about the scholarship program could be made at that time.

Ms. Kilpatrick added that an application had been made to include the Lee Monument individually on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and she hoped that an announcement about that effort could also be made at such an event.

At the close of the meeting, the committee debated whether or not to refer to the events scheduled for 2007 as a celebration or a commemoration. After a vote, it was decided that both terms should be used.

Next Meeting

The joint subcommittee has not yet scheduled its next meeting, but hopes to convene at Stratford Hall in late November or early December.

The Hon. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

The Hon. Benjamin L. Cline

For information, contact:
Lisa Wallmeyer, DLS Staff

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Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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