On May 12 of this year, I testified at the Shenandoah County School Board public hearing on the need to re-rename Stonewall Jackson High School back to its original name of Stonewall Jackson High. During the testimony there was one person who stated that we need to stop naming buildings after people. That way no one would be offended was his rationale.

Many of us have also done good or even great things as well. But each of us has fallen short of the greater glory of God, and failed both God and Mankind as well. (Sorry but Mankind is the proper term here — not Person kind)

Most of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. Generals William Sherman and Phil Sheridan committed what would now be considered war crimes against the South with their indiscriminate burning. Sheridan is credited with the slogan “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” (actually what he is reported to have said in 1869 was “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead”). Woodrow Wilson was one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. The list is far too long to mention.

Yet no one is demanding that Sheridan’s statues be torn down. Or Sherman’s. We have buildings named after Malcolm X, a racial separatist. Is anyone talking about renaming those buildings, roads or schools?

Woodrow Wilson gave us everything from extreme racism to the conditions which gave us World War II. But the fact is that Wilson was a leader in the revival of Princeton University. There is a reason that Princeton has a Woodrow Wilson Building on its campus. J. Edgar Hoover ran a corrupt FBI, but you don’t have an FBI without Hoover, so the name of the FBI building is the J. Edgar Hoover Building. People cannot be separated from all of their legacy, both bad and good.

Whether people want to hear this or not, Stonewall Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign put the Shenandoah Valley on the map for millions of Americans. Stonewall also requested that his slaves be taught how to read, something which was illegal at the time. Should Stonewall be castigated for owning slaves? Absolutely! It’s a black mark on his record for eternity. But the fact is that Stonewall was an educator. He was one of the greatest military minds in American history. And he did put the Shenandoah Valley on the map for millions of Americans.

Stonewall deserves to have schools named after him. And we can’t go around changing the names of each building or street just because someone is offended. We do that, and we won’t be able to name anything.

John Massoud is a member of the Strasburg Town Council, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, and a candidate for the Virginia State Senate 1st District.

(8) comments

John Chroniger

The main point of the current actions of the Shenandoah County school board in revisiting the names of the two schools is upon one issue alone. (ONE-just like those who claim the civil war was abount one issue-Slavery) That is the method used originally in making the change. The citizens were excluded in the process and one of the school board members was even excluded from the 4 day planning of making the change.

Valleynative

I think some people forget that we have a representative democracy. Surveys and polls are a useful tool for our elected officials if conducted broadly, comprehensively, professionally and fairly. But our elected officials should not consider them in entirely in making their decisions. Economic, social, image, and a variety of other factors come into play. If surveys alone were the only decision making method employed then all we would need our elected officials do is tabulate the results.

Truthsquad

You are not entitled to your own set of facts, Mr. Chroniger. Your statement simply is not true. Citizens were involved in the process from even several years before.

Valleynative

Justifying a school name in part based on the actions of Sherman and Sheridan in putting down an insurrection by the South is just lame. The US has not been squeaky clean on what would be considered war crimes in most of the wars we have fought including , WW II, Korea, and Vietnam for instance. The cause for fighting these wars as was our Civil War was deemed necessary to maintain our Nation. Jackson fought to divide our country. There can be no argument about that. To quote General Sherman, "War is H--ll". Wars have consequences. We should not honor those who fought to make our country less than whole.

Dennis Atwood

No, no, absolutely not. Just a few relevant facts in the context of John Massoud's rancid, random label-ladling piece.

The Manassas Battlefield National Historic Park, where Thomas J. Jackson was given his famous nickname, is in Prince William Coutny, where the school board, in June 2020 (the height of the pandemic) renamed two schools which had been burdened with Jackson's name. The high school was renamed Unity Reed High School, to honor the "...legacy of Arthur Walter Reed Jr., long-time security assistant at Stonewall Jackson High School,... who was beloved by students and staff."

Stonewall Jackson Middle School was renamed Unity Braxton Middle School

"to honor the legacies of Celestine Braxton and Carroll Braxton. Celestine was a Prince William County Public Schools educator for 33 years and taught at Antioch-Macrae Elementary School in Haymarket while Virginia schools were still racially segregated. She worked until 1983 when she retired in 1983 after teaching at Marsteller and Stonewall Middle Schools.

"Carroll Braxton was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. and a Congressional Gold Medal Recipient and one of 20,000 African-American Marines from 1942 to 1949. He trained at a segregated facility for basic training and served honorably in World War II and the Korean War, even serving as a combat instructor before retiring in 1980." (WJLA.com)

Massoud is also grossly factually wrong regarding Woodrow Wilson and Princeton University. “Princeton University will remove the name of President Woodrow Wilson from its school of public policy and a residential college, the school said in a statement [June 27, 2020]….

"’We have taken this extraordinary step because we believe that Wilson's racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school whose scholars, students, and alumni must be firmly committed to combating the scourge of racism in all its forms,’ the release says.’ (CNN June 27, 2020)

VMI, removed the Stonewall Jackson statue from its academic campus, to the Virginia Musuem of the Civl War, an appropriate setting.

Only one of the "flawed" persons Massoud names fought a war against the United States of America in order to keep legal the enslavement of African Amerians. That person, being Thomas J. Jackson.

There are many more problems with Massoud's piece, but I'll pause for now.

So, no, no, absolutely no. Shenandoah County should not restore the name any Confederate leaders on its public school buildings. Our public schools are funded by taxpayer dollars from all levels of government - to Shenandoah County, a unit of government in Virginia, to which we also pay taxes, and is a state in the USA, to which we also pay taxes.

Anyone who is sincere when citing the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, "and the Republic for which it stands," should understand the hyocrisy, bigotry, and racism of any effort to restore the name of any Confederate leader on our public schools.

We should enduringly appreciate and applaud the shedding of Confederate generals’ names from our schools, being replaced with Mountain View and Honey Run, placing Shenandoah County among the thousands communities and institutions, nationwide, which have taken similar actions in addressing racial reckoning and reconciliation, to further social justice and equity.

JPoplar

Great nations do not hide their history be it the good, the bad, or the ugly but rather put in in perspective, learn from it and move forward. We should allow the results of the ongoing survey to be to be completed and unequivocally support the decision of the SHENCO School Board duly elected by constituents to support them. That is how a representative democracy works where the people elect officials to create and vote on laws, policies, and other matters of government on their behalf.

Linda Allen

So now we need to honor the insurrectionist and killer of American troops because he was a "great educator." He was educated at West Point, paid by American taxpayers to learn to defend our Country, then turned that education against citizens of the United States. Jackson taught the enslaved so they would know their place according to the white male supremacist interpretation of the Bible. Massoud is now promoting the Lost Cause as a campaign issue. Should Virginia to regress to 1860? No thanks.

Truthsquad

Is this not the same Mr. Massoud who accused our current VP of the United States of sleeping her way to AG of California and referred to an SCPS employee who was Black as a “token hire?” I’m hate to point out to you, Mr. Massoud, but your rants drip of racism.

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