Story by Chris Graham
The firestorm of controversy that resulted from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proclamation of Confederate History Month was expected. A statement from McDonnell released this evening in which the governor admits to “a mistake” for not including any mention of slavery in the proclamation was not expected.
“The proclamation issued by this office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell was quoted in a statement released by the governor’s office late Wednesday.
McDonnell’s proclamation was issued with little public attention last week. Attention was brought to the proclamation on Tuesday when criticism of the failure of McDonnell to address slavery in the verbiage rose to a boil on the web.
“The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of ‘profound regret’ for the Commonwealth’s history of slavery, which was the right thing to do,” McDonnell said in his statement.
“As Virginians we carry with us both the burdens and the blessings of our history. Virginia history undeniably includes the fact that we were the Capitol of the Confederacy, the site of more battlefields than any other state, and the home of the signing of the peace agreement at Appomattox. Our history is perhaps best encapsulated in a fact I noted in my Inaugural Address in January: The state that served as the Capitol of the Confederacy was also the first in the nation to elect an African-American governor, my friend, L. Douglas Wilder. America’s history has been written in Virginia. We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility. During the commemoration of the Civil War over the next four years, I intend to lead an effort to promote greater understanding and harmony in our state among our citizens,” McDonnell said.