Calling Confederate History Month "a lightning rod" that "would not advance the healing process," Virginia Governor Mark Warner declined last week to issue a proclamation designating April as a time to celebrate the role played by the Old Dominion and her sons during the War Between the States.

Despite a March 14 meeting with leaders of the Commonwealth's Southern heritage organizations -- including Virginia Division UDC President Mrs. John W. Lougheed, Honorary President of General Mrs. Haike M. Giragosian, Virginia Division SCV Commander Henry Kidd, and Heritage Preservation Association (HPA) of Virginia President Fred Taylor -- Warner would not reconsider the position he took and publicly advocated during his campaign for the state's highest office.

Governor Warner with Confederate heritage group officers

Governor Mark Warner with Virginia Division SCV Commander Henry Kidd, Past Virginia Division UDC President Mrs. Haike M. Giragosian, and Virginia Division UDC President Mrs. John W. Lougheed.

Warner did promise to continue the dialogue that had been opened and asked that he be judged by his future actions rather than by this one refusal. Although disappointed that no proclamation would be forthcoming, meeting attendees did feel, as Taylor said afterwards, that "Governor Warner and his administration [now] better understand our issue."


On March 14th, Past Division President Betty Jean Giragosian accompanied me, Commander Henry Kidd, and other members of the SCV and other heritage groups to a 45-minute meeting with Governor Mark Warner, asking he proclaim April as Confederate History and Heritage Month. Governor Warner formally refused our request stating his belief that signing such a proclamation would not advance the healing process. He also stated that it is the right of every Virginian to celebrate our history and extended an offer to meet with us again in the future. He promised he had plans for the future that he felt we would approve of -- although he wouldn't comment on what they were!

Even though I do not like the outcome of the meeting, Governor Warner made us feel very welcome and listened intently and even with sympathy. I spoke about how the woman and children suffered during the War, how Virginia called our families to arms and that they must never be forgotten, and that those who wish to speak against us should take the time to learn all the good works we do. I encourage you, Virginia Daughters, to continue sending your e-mails and letters to Governor Warner expressing your desires and concerns for Confederate History and Heritage Month! Just because the Governor did not recognize this important request, that doesn't mean that we cannot! I know many of you have special meetings and events planned and even some counties and cities have proclaimed April as Confederate History and Heritage Month -- because of your requests.

When I sent a thank you to him, I enclosed a "Proud to Say I Salute the Flag of Virginia" button! I hope he wears it!

Mrs. John W. Lougheed
President, Virginia Division UDC

Text of Virginia Division SCV statement
Text of Associated Press story
Text of HPA press release
Text of Richmond Times-Dispatch article

Return to Virginia Division Archives