As the governor takes the podium, it should go without saying that many in this crowd are mulling over the controversy caused by his Confederate History Month proclamation. That being said, he did receive a standing ovation when he came up to the podium. He made sure to congratulate the NSU football team, which is very galling to me because it reminds me of the thrashing my Pitt Panthers received at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes last night.
Early in his speech he wryly remarked, “This is not going to be easy – I know that from personal experience” and then paused for laughter, which the crowd seemed to enjoy. He later referred to his Confederate History Month proclamation’s omission of slavery as “unacceptable” and called it a “mistake”.
He remarked that he was excited for what should prove to be a richer conversation over the next four years of the Sesquicentennial commemoration. He mentioned an upcoming proclamation from his office that will honor all participants of the Civil War – Union, Confederate, and African American
He made sure to stress the diversity of Virginia’s population and how the commonwealth has made much progress since the Civil War. He mentioned milestones in black history – the first African American Governor, an African American Chief Justice, and the Civil Rights memorial.
He stated that the central lesson to learn from the Civil War was that until the war concluded, the notion that all people are created equal was dishonored by the institution of slavery. It “left a stain on the soul of the state and the nation.”
He also remarked that 150 years is long enough for Virginia to fight the Civil War – the anniversary is time to embrace its lessons and celebrate unity.
He concluded by stating that Virginia has emerged strong, vibrant and diverse. In all, his remarks were candid, honest, and well received.