There is a story told about the surrender of the Confederacy at Appomattox Courthouse as the Civil War concluded. General Grant was an unusual man. Knowing the war was over and the victory was his, he showed great, and unusual, kindness and respect toward the chief general of the Confederates. He allowed General Robert E. Lee to ride freely in and out of the area. He also allowed the Confederate men to keep their possessions and horses. Grant gave them food because they were hungry and let them all go home undisturbed.
Lee was permanently touched by Grant’s kindness. After the war, Lee became the president of Washington College in Virginia. On one occasion, one of his fellow instructors, also a Southerner, began to speak poorly of Grant to Lee (assuming he’d receive a sympathetic audience). Lee turned, looked the man straight in the eye, and said, “Sir, if you ever again presume to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.” Because General Lee had received such kindness from Grant, he treasured and protected the good name of the one who had showed him such kindness. So should we!