While not officially Memorial Day my wife and I attended a funeral today in Arlington Cemetery; the funeral was near the Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknown, after the funeral my wife and I took a few minutes to walk up the hill to the Amphitheater. Sir Moses Ezekiel VMI Class of 1866 designed the Amphitheater. He is buried near by in Section 16 of Arlington, as he was a veteran of the Civil War having fought with Battalion of Cadets at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1865. Having never visited his burial site which is at the base of the Confederate Monument I thought it was appropriate.
In Virginia Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated on the same day as the national holiday. According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day began as a celebration of those who had died during the Civil War. Over time it has come to be a celebration of those who died in all wars.
It was fitting we visited Sir Moses Ezekiel grave. Not only did he design the Amphitheater, but he also sculpted the Confederate War Memorial, and of course Virginia Morning Her Dead on the grounds of his Alma Mater the Virginia Military Institute.
Sir Moses Ezekiel was an unlikely Cadet. He was not a member of the first families of Virginia, nor was he the son of a prominent businessman or planter or a communicant of the Episcopal Church. He was from Richmond, but his father was not a businessman but a merchant, he was not an Episcopalian, but a Jew. He would be the first Jew to attend VMI.
His roommate at VMI, Thomas Garland Jefferson, was wounded at the Battle of New Market. Ezekiel and another Cadet searched the battlefield to find him and carry him to Mother Crim house where he nurse him he died. Ezekiel comforted his friend and roommate by reading to him from The Bible and the New Testament. It is noted in his biography that he read to him from the Gospel of John, Chapter 14:
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
Those who like Ezekiel had fought for the Confederate States of America surround Sir Moses in Section 16 Arlington National Cemetery. Surrounded by those, who like himself, who had fought for their native states.
Sir Moses Ezekiel and all whom are buried at Arlington stand as silent sentinels who remind us that freedom is not free cheap.