Hispanic Confederate, Moses Ezekiel
The diversity of her people is the history of America.
September 15th is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage
Month that is celebrated through October. Make this time of
remembrance a family affair and ask your children to share
the following story with their teachers and class mates. You
could also make copies for your church or synagogue and
veterans and civic groups.
Some people preach "multi-cultural" thought but don't
to read, or our children to hear, stories like that of that of
"The death of Moses Ezekiel, the distinguished and greatly
loved American sculptor, who lived in Rome for more than
forty years, caused universal regret here."---1921, the New
York Times Dispatch from Rome.
Arlington National Cemetery is a reverent place of history. It
located in the shadow of the Custis-Lee Mansion (Arlington House)
that was home to Gen. Robert E. Lee and his family until 1861,
the beginning of the War Between the States.
Tours, through this famous burial place of President Kennedy,
Wainwright and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, are conducted daily.
I have been told that another part of this cemetery (section 16)
sometimes be overlooked. It is, however, an important part of
On June 4, 1914, the President of the U.S., Woodrow Wilson spoke
at the dedication of a new Confederate memorial at section 16.
monument to those Confederate soldiers, who were re-interred there
in 1900, has been called both striking and unique.
Dr. Edward Smith, a Professor of History at American University,
described this monument as probably the first to honor the Black
Confederate soldiers. This monument includes a depiction of a
Confederate marching in step with the white soldiers.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned a Jewish-
Confederate Veteran, Moses J. Ezekiel, to do the work on this
Some people say that he might have been the first Jewish-American
this type of sculpture. It is written that the UDC was pleased
with his work
that depicts the multi-cultural makeup of the late Confederate
Moses J. Ezekiel was born on October 28, 1844, in Richmond, Va.
was one of fourteen children born to Jacob and Catherine de Castro
He was born in a house on "Old Market Street" that is
said to have been in
the poorer side of town. His grandparents came to America from
1808, and were of Jewish-Spanish Heritage.
Ezekiel talked his parents into letting him attend Virginia Military
and he did enroll on September 17, 1862. He is said to be the
American to enter there at this the school of General Stonewall
After two years at VMI, Ezekiel saw military service during the
the States. The Cadets, of Virginia Military Institute, were called
Confederate Gen. John C. Breckenridge at the Battle of New Market,
Virginia in 1864.
Ezekiel, after the war, went on to finish his education at VMI.
It was during
this time that he had the good fortune to meet Gen. Robert E.
was president of Washington College. Lee gave him the following
of encouragement in his quest to be an artist;
"I hope you will be an artist, as it seems to me that you
are cut out for
one. But, whatever you do, try to prove to the world that, even
if we did not
succeed in our struggle, we are worthy of success and do earn
reputation to whatever profession you undertake."
Ezekiel would travel to Italy to study and work as an artist
known worldwide. Among his many great works are: "Christ
for the Cross" and "David Singing his song of Glory."
A lesser known but important War Between the States-related work,
is a bronze entitled "The Outlook" which depicts a Confederate
"done in 1910" looking over Lake Erie from the Confederate
at the site of the former prisoner of war camp at Johnson's Island,
This is where many of his fellow class mates of Virginia Military
Institute had been imprisoned and some died.
Ezekiel died in Italy in 1917.
On March 31, 1921, Moses J. Ezekiel was laid to rest at Arlington
National Cemetery. The burial ceremony was the first held at Arlington's
Amphitheater and was presided over by the United States Secretary
War John W. Weeks. His casket was covered by the United States
and six VMI cadet captains, and two other cadets, stood by his
Ezekiel was buried near the base of the Southern monument he built.
A message was read from US President Warren G. Harding, who
praised Ezekiel as "a great Virginian, a great artist, a
and a great citizen of world fame." A tribute was also paid
by Rabbi D.
Phillipson of Cincinnati who later wrote a monograph of Ezekiel.
These simple words are inscribed on his grave marker;
"Moses J. Ezekiel
Sergeant of Company C
Battalion of Cadets of the
Virginia Military Institute."
People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward
their ancestors.--Edmund Burke, British Philosopher, 1729-1797.
By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
Author of the book, When America stood for God, Family and
1064 West Mill Drive
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