I graduated from J.E.B. Stuart High School, as my brother and sister had before me, in 1975, and left town for college. It was immediately embarrassing to explain to new friends from other areas of the country why my high school was named for a second-tier Confederate general. Despite my protestations that the school’s location was related to Stuart’s campaigns, they understandably concluded that I came from a backwater Southern town with nostalgia for the Civil War.
The conclusions in the July 26 editorial “A legacy that should be left behind,” regarding the high school’s name, were entirely correct. Renaming the school does not — indeed cannot — rewrite history. J.E.B. Stuart will always have been a Confederate general, just as I will always have graduated from a school named for him. But those historical facts do not compel the Fairfax County School Board to honor him permanently by retaining the school’s name. In 1958, the school board made a decision that Stuart’s deeds justified honoring him by naming a high school for him; the Fairfax County School Board was right to reconsider that decision and vote to rename the school.
Liz Birnbaum, Alexandria