Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
A Tribute to Moses Ezekiel
October 5, 2009
September 15th -October 15th is Hispanic History Month and the
Educational Committee of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a
national-historical and educational organization, has included an
informative Hispanic History Month
fact sheet about those who served in the Confederate and Union
Some say, Americans know more about sports then they do about their
nation’s past. Sports are a wonderful past-time for family fun but there
can also be fun in reading stories about great Americans like; George
Washington, Robert E. Lee, Booker T. Washington, Florence Nightingale
and Moses Ezekiel, with your children and grandchildren.
Please share this story of America’s forgotten past with teachers, young
people, family and friends.
Moses J. Ezekiel was born in Richmond, Virginia on October 28, 1844. He
was one of fourteen children born to Jacob and Catherine De Castro
Ezekiel. His grandparents came to America from Holland in 1808, and were
of Jewish-Spanish Heritage.
At the age of 16, and the beginning of the War Between the States, Moses
begged his father and mother to allow him to enroll at Virginia Military
Three years after his enrollment at (VMI) the cadets of the school
marched to the aid of Confederate General John C. Breckinridge. Moses
Ezekiel joined his fellow cadets in a charge against the Union lines at
the "Battle of New Market."
When the War Between the States ended, Moses went back to Virginia
Military Institute to finish his studies where he graduated in 1866.
According to his letters, which are now preserved by the American Jewish
Historical Society, Ezekiel met with Robert E. Lee during this time. Lee
encouraged him by saying, "I hope you will be an artist...do earn a
reputation in whatever profession you undertake.”
The world famous Arlington National Cemetery is located in Virginia and
overlooks the Potomac River. At section 16, of the cemetery, is a
beautiful Confederate Monument that towers over the graves of 450
Southern soldiers, wives and civilians. These words are inscribed on the
"Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, Not lured by
ambition, or goaded by necessity, But in simple obedience to duty, as
they understood it, These men sacrificed all, dared all...and died."
The United Daughters of the Confederacy entered into a contract with
Moses J. Ezekiel to build this Confederate Monument at Arlington
National Cemetery. It is written that he based his work on the words of
Prophet Isaiah, "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and
their spears into pruning hooks."
This Confederate Memorial towers 32 and 1/2 feet and is said to be the
tallest bronze sculpture at Arlington National Cemetery. On top is a
figure of a woman, with olive leaves covering her head, representing the
South. She also holds a laurel wreath in her left hand, remembering the
Sons of Dixie. On the side of the monument is also a depiction of a
Black Confederate marching in step with white soldiers.
Ezekiel was not able to come to the dedication of the monument held on
June 4, 1914, with President Woodrow Wilson presiding. Union and
Confederate soldiers were present among a crowd of thousands at this
Moses Jacob Ezekiel studied to be an artist in Italy. As a tribute to
his great works, he was knighted by Emperor William I of Germany and
King's Humbert I and Victor Emmanuel, II of Italy---thus the title of
Among the works of Sir Moses J. Ezekiel are: "Christ Bound for the
Cross", "The Martyr", "David singing his song of Glory”, "Moses
Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai" and "Stonewall Jackson” located at VMI.
Upon his death in 1917, Moses Ezekiel left behind his request to be
buried with his Confederates at Arlington. A burial ceremony was
conducted on March 31, 1921, at the amphitheater at Arlington National
Cemetery. It was presided over by the United States Secretary of War
John W. Weeks. He was laid to rest at the foot of the memorial that he
had sculptured. Six VMI cadets flanked his casket that was covered with
an American flag.
Lest We Forget!