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Moses Jacob Ezekiel - Extracted from Albert Z

By Chad Jordan,2014-08-12 15:02
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Moses Jacob Ezekiel - Extracted from Albert Z ...

Extracted from Albert Z. Conner Jr., Not For Fame Or Reward: Virginia Military Institute’s

    (VMI’s) Civil War Soldiers and Sailors, In-progress. July 25, 2007

1363. Moses Jacob Ezekiel 1866 EM423

    New Market Cadet and Wartime VMI Cadet. [VMI Archives Photo.]

    Often referred to incorrectly as “Sir Moses” by Americans in reference to his Italian and German honors; he would more correctly be referred to as either “Cavaliere” Ezekiel or “Herr von” Ezekiel. Ezekiel was born on Oct. 28, 1844, one of 14 children. He was born in a now-demolished house on “Old Market Street,” on the west side of 17th Street between Main and Franklin, in a poverty-stricken Richmond, Virginia neighborhood. The family also lived in a house (also demolished in the 1930s) on the southeast corner of Marshall and 12th. His grandparents, of Spanish-Jewish origin, had immigrated in 1808 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from Holland, where the family had fled 400 years earlier following the Spanish Inquisition. (Alumnus file.)

    Beth Ahabah Museum, Richmond, Ezekiel’s home synagogue (strangely he is not

    mentioned in its web-site) relates context and a fascinating history of the Jews in Virginia and Richmond:

    Jews were already doing business in the Virginia Territory as early as

    1650. By the 1760s they began to settle in Richmond and by 1790 Jewish

    residents numbered 100 citizens out of the 3700 citizens in the city. In

    1789 a group of Jews established Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome (The Holy

    Congregation, House of Peace), a congregation based on Sephardic

    tradition (the Jewish culture that began in medieval Spain and spread

    through the Mediterranean basin). It became the first congregation in

    Richmond and the sixth and westernmost Jewish congregation in the

    United States. By 1822 K. K. Beth Shalome members worshipped in the

    first synagogue building in Virginia. (This building on Mayo Street

    unfortunately no longer exists.) In the 1800s a growing number of

    Ashkenazic Jews (German and Eastern European Jews) immigrated to

    Richmond and joined the congregation, but soon longed for their more

    familiar form of service. In 1841 they founded Congregation Beth Ahabah

    (House of Love) as an offshoot of K.K. Beth Shalome. Beth Ahabah

    founded the first Jewish school in Richmond in 1846 and established its

    first house of worship in 1848 at Eleventh and Marshall Streets. The

    Congregation took its first steps toward Reform in 1867 when an organ

    was proposed, family pews were instituted and women were allowed to

    become members of the choir. Beth Ahabah joined the Reform

    Movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregation in 1875. A second

    synagogue was built on the same site at Eleventh and Marshall Streets in

    1880. In 1898 K.K. Beth Shalome formally merged with Congregation

    Beth Ahabah.

    While still a child Ezekiel showed artistic talent for drawing, painting and poetry. By 14 years of age, Ezekiel had quit school and was engaged in the mercantile business.

    He was dissatisfied with those pursuits, and he subsequently decided to go to college. At the time he left for VMI, his mother, Catherine de Castro Ezekiel, admonished him as she sent him off to learn the arts of war, and said that she wouldn’t have a son who wouldn’t fight for his home and country. Another son (two years older than Moses Ezekiel), E. th Virginia Infantry. Michael Ezekiel, Melder Ezekiel, served as a private in the 12

    apparently another brother, was born in Richmond in 1841; he enlisted on Apr. 19, 1861 thas a private in Company “A” (redesignated Company “G”), 12 Virginia Infantry.

    Michael was discharged on disability; he later married Carrie May Dimmock. They lived in Massachusetts after war. Michael died in 1912.

    Considering the well-documented anti-Semitic prejudice of that time and place, his mother’s patriotism was courageous and benevolent. Her son seemed to share her

    views. A contemporary description of Civil War Richmond attitudes -- the Northern states were equally so disposed -- in H. M. Sachar’s A History of the Jews in America

    (1992 -- which amazingly doesn’t mention Ezekiel in its Civil War section) demonstrates

    something of that poisoned atmosphere:

    One has but to walk through the streets and stores of Richmond, to get an

    impression of the vast number of unkempt Israelites in our marts...Every

    auction room is packed with greasy Jews...Let one observe the number of

    wheezing Jewish matrons...elbowing out of their way soldiers’ families

    and the more respectable people in the community. [Attributed in that

    work to the Richmond Examiner.]

    Ezekiel himself later expressed his reasons for attending VMI and, by implication, for fighting for the Confederacy. He had definitely not gone there to defend slavery. He considered that the “peculiar institution” had unfortunately been inherited by Virginia. In his mind, Virginia -- which in 1860 nevertheless had the South’s largest slave population

    despite having sold a quarter of a million slaves to other Southern states in the previous three decades -- had limited the institution. Rather, Ezekiel was there to defend Virginia, which he felt had seceded in order to avoid providing troops to the Union to “subjugate

    her sister Southern states.” In this regard his views, however accurate, were probably typical of his fellow cadets.

    His grandfather and namesake, Moses A. Waterman, had initially believed that the Ezekiel wouldn’t be able to go to VMI because of “war conditions.” The youngster did manage to go; although it is clear that Ezekiel’s cadet career began inauspiciously --

    by his refusing to take the physical abuse being threatened by an old cadet he had encountered and by several others who “visited” him during that first night. Part of the new cadet system at that time, in addition to showing general respect to older cadets and be able to “take a beating,” or, paradoxically, demonstrating an ability to stand up for one’s honor and rights.

    Per Couper’s The VMI New Market Cadets and the alumni registers, he entered

    VMI from Richmond on Sept. 17, 1862, with the Class of 1866, which originally contained 147 members. He graduated 10th of 10 graduates (all were members of the

    New Market Corps) on July 4, 1866 (45 others -- 36 of whom were also members of the New Market Corps -- of his class were later declared war graduates). (The Dictionary of

    American Biography, likely based on a 1921 speech by Henry K. Bush-Brown, would later incorrectly state that he had entered in 1861 and had graduated “with honors.”)

    It soon became clear to his VMI class- and school-mates that he was special with regard to his artistic talents. A 1940 letter to VMI from a lady in Shawsville, Virginia, reveals that his artistic talent was fully evident early in his cadetship. As related, Ezekiel, while visiting Shawsville with fellow cadets J. Kent Langhorne Ex-1866 and M. D. Langhorne Ex-1867/HG, sketched their sister on horseback while she waited at the train station. Miss Lizzie Langhorne apparently never knew she was a subject of the young cadet’s drawing (ironically, she later married Mr. J. M. Payne of Amherst, Virginia, and eventually became the grandmother of a VMI cadet, N. P. Gatling 1922).

    As VMI’s first known Jewish cadet (an earlier matriculate had previously converted to Protestantism and another had come from a family where Judaism had been adopted), there were some unusual letters exchanged between his family and the Institute’s administration. For example, in March 1863, VMI Superintendent Maj. Gen. F. H. Smith had to gain Board of Visitors’ permission for young Ezekiel to be furloughed in order to join his family for the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” As he was apparently also the first of his family to go into a military school, some reorientation at home was also necessary: his grandfather had wanted him excused from VMI summer camp in 1863 for fear of “disease” he might contract from exposure to the elements. In May 1863, he was a corporal of the guard -- which had the primary mission of ensuring that overzealous cadets didn’t pluck too many floral souvenirs from General “Stonewall” Jackson’s heavily bedecked metal casket as it lay in state in his old VMI classroom before Jackson’s burial.

    Years later, in 1903, classmate John S. Wise Ex-1866/HG, provided a colorful (if tongue-in-cheek) description of then world-famous Ezekiel as a cadet:

    ...he never could chisel himself into a pretty soldier. His head was as large

    as a Brownie’s, his body thickset, and his legs were very short. In fact, he

    looked like a tin soldier that had been broken in the middle and mended

    with sealing wax. I resented bitterly the fact that of all the Sergeants he

    was the only one I ranked.

    Ezekiel’s active war service came as a member of the New Market Corps or

    “Baby Corps,” which fought effectively as the VMI Cadet Battalion in the New Market

    battle on May 15, 1864. He participated in the fight as a private of Company “C,” first in the forced-march to Staunton, Harrisonburg and New Market, and then in the assault on the Union positions which helped defeat Sigel’s Federal forces. (Couper’s The VMI New

    Market Cadets, 1933.)

    After the battle, as described in Couper, his efforts were focused on recovering the dead and wounded. Ezekiel accompanied B. A. Colonna 1864 in search of their friend

    Thomas Garland Jefferson Ex-1867/HG. Jefferson, a descendant of the third U.S. president, was found desperately wounded in the chest and lying in a hut. Ezekiel, although missing the shoes he lost in the mud of the “field of shoes,” walked into New Market to secure a wagon. They took Jefferson to the Clinedinst House in New Market.

    “Lydie” Clinedinst, later Mrs. Crim or “Mother Crim” was credited with nursing Jefferson; however, in 1904 Ezekiel wrote from Rome to clarify that she had been confused with another lady or ladies, and her family had done little more than hospitably provide a space and concern for the wounded cadet. Despite this clarification, Mrs. Crim became a living symbol of the kindness showered on the cadets by the citizens of New Market. Whatever the actual facts, she apparently lived this role honorably for the remainder of her days.

    While Jefferson remained in bed in agonizing pain for two days, Ezekiel read to him from the Bible. On the evening of Tuesday, 17 May 1864, the Clinedinst family gathered to listen as young Moses read to his Christian friend requested New Testament passages (John 14) a statement of faith in life everlasting:

    In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would

    have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

    As Jefferson’s mind wandered, he first thought Ezekiel was his mother, and then his sister. As he lost his sight, he asked for a light. “Only then it dawned on me,” Ezekiel later recalled, “that all hope was past and [he was] in his [death] agony.” The Clinedinst family kindly gathered around again, as Ezekiel held Jefferson in his arms as he died. This became the definitive illustration of filial love of VMI-men for one another (see also Lt. John S. Wise Ex-1866/HG and his account of “Jack” Stanard).

    Ezekiel was promoted to cadet orderly- or first-sergeant of Company “C” after

    New Market. He also completed the academic session of 1864-1865 -- interrupted somewhat by the burning of the Institute, its relocation to the Richmond Alms House, trench duty in the Richmond-Petersburg Siege, evacuation of the capital, and the final Confederate surrender.

    Ezekiel was one of the few cadets to return for the 1865-1866 session. In his final year, he came to the attention of Washington College’s new president, Robert E. Lee, and his wife, Mary Custis Lee (for whom he had executed a painting, “The Prisoner’s Wife.” General Lee wisely and revealingly encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents:

    I hope you will be an artist, as it seems to me you are cut out for one. But,

    whatever you do, try to prove to the world that if we did not succeed in

    our struggle, we are worthy of success, and do earn a reputation in

    whatever profession you undertake.

    Lee’s guidance no doubt inspired Ezekiel and he went on to exceed the old general’s orders. He first turned out some fine paintings. His first sculpture was a bust of his father. He also did an ideal bust “Cain, or the Offering Rejected.”

    After graduating, Ezekiel spent a year at the Medical College of Virginia studying human anatomy -- ironically, an educational opportunity which many physicians of that day did not bother to experience. He then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, as his family had lost everything in Richmond - his brother E. Melder Ezekiel, also a Confederate veteran, moved to Massachusetts where he was active in Democratic Party politics until his death in 1912; other family members also settled in Cincinnati. Moses first studied at the Art School of J. Insco Williams and in the studio of sculptor Thomas Dow Jones -- where he completed a statuette entitled “Industry,” depicting a young girl (his sister Sally) knitting and studying her lesson. Ezekiel subsequently went abroad in 1869 to study. He went to Berlin where, on the advice of Cincinnati artists, he studied at the Royal Art Academy under Professor Albert Wolff. There he also earned money by teaching English, and by selling some of his early works.

    At the remarkably young age of 29, he won the Michel-Beer Prix de Rome, the first foreigner to do so, with a bas relief entitled “Israel.” The prize allowed him to go to Rome, which he made his lifetime residence. This award seems to have catapulted Ezekiel to fame and he was in demand internationally. His first commission was from the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith in 1874; the work was entitled “Religious Liberty.” (See below.) Soon afterward, he received a commission for the Corcoran Gallery facade (see below).

    He was subsequently knighted by King Victor Emmanuel of Italy and decorated by King Humberto. His other awards included the “Crosses for Merit and Art” from the Emperor of Germany; another from the Grand Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; and the awards of “Chevalier” and “Officer of the Crown of Italy ” (1910) from the King of Italy. (Another account says he received the Cavalier’s Golden Cross of the House of Hohenzollern from Wilhelm II in 1893 and, in 1906, King Victor Emmanuel II awarded him the honorary title of Cavaliere Ufficiale della corona d’ Italia.) Ezekiel also received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Palermo, Italy; the Silver Medal from the Esposizione Nationale de Belle Arti, Rome (1893); the Silver Medal at the St. Louis Universal Exposition (1904); and the Raphael Medal from the Art Society of Urbino, Italy.

    Although living his life as an émigré in Rome, Ezekiel’s artistic heart always stood firmly on American soil. Many of his most important works were related to his native country and state, and the war of his youth. Typical of these were the works he accomplished for VMI and other Southern sponsors. In 1903, as he visited VMI for the dedication of his “Virginia Mourning Her Dead” (then in front of Jackson Arch, later moved to its present location in front of Nichols’ Engineering Hall), he described his

    reasoning in the design of his statue. Ezekiel had conceived it about a decade earlier as a memorial to his fallen cadet comrades. Seeing the fresh young cadet faces before him at

    the dedication, Ezekiel recalled “Something arose like a stone in my throat, and fell to my heart, slashing tears to my eyes.”

    Many of his sculptures were in the elaborate and ornate rococo style which was reprised and highly popular in the Victorian era. All of his subjects were romanticized. He ultimately accomplished some 200 works in his prolific career. Among his greatest was a marble group, “Religious Liberty,” or “Religious Freedom” for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (The Dictionary of American Biography says it

    was applauded at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 - see below). The work actually arrived too late for the 1876 exposition; but, it was nevertheless displayed in front of Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Hall until it was moved in Aug 1985 to the grounds of the

    National Museum of American Jewish History at 55 North Fifth Street, resting a short distance from Independence Hall. It was rededicated there on May 14, 1986.

    Among his other most important works were: “The Martyr” or “Christ Bound for the Cross;” “Christ in the Tomb;” “Homer Reciting the Iliad” at the University of Virginia; “Eve Hearing the Voice;” “The Fountain of Neptune;” “Pan and Amor;” ”David Returning from Victory;” “David Singing His Song of Glory;” “Judith Slaying Holofernes;” “Jessica;” “Portia;” “Demostene;” “Sophocles;” and 11 decorative portrait statues in the Old Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C. He did an allegorical statue of Thomas Jefferson for Louisville, Kentucky, and a replica for the University of Virginia (see below). In 1888 he did a marble bust of Thomas Jefferson as vice-president for the U.S. Senate Collection. He executed a huge Columbus statue for the 1892-1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. He also did statues of individuals: “Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise” for Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati (1899); “Anthony Drexel” for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

    The Jefferson statue was deemed to be one of Ezekiel’s most successful works. Commissioned in 1899 by Isaac and Bernard Bernheim, of Louisville, Kentucky, it was dedicated at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Nov. 10, 1901. The statue depicts Jefferson at the age (35) when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, with that document and standing on a replica of the Liberty Bell. Ezekiel made three replicas of the statue (two small and one large). He gave one to VMI in 1901, and one to either Rosewell Page or Thomas Nelson Page “before 1910.” (This latter replica was later given to the Library of Virginia in 1924.) Thomas Nelson Page ensured a full-sized replica would go to the University of Virginia in 1910.

    He accomplished a “Stonewall” Jackson statue for Charleston, West Virginia, and a replica of that work which replaced “Virginia Mourning Her Dead” in 1912 in front of VMI’s Jackson Arch. The earlier statue (actually begun in the studio of Professor Albert Wolff in Berlin and dedicated in 1903) then stood nearby over the graves of five (later six of the 10) cadets -- all Ezekiel’s boyhood comrades -- who were killed or mortally

    wounded at New Market. A small-scale, bronze model of the statue is in the Museum of the Confederacy (see below).

    Ezekiel did other works to honor his Confederate and VMI comrades. One of his greatest works was the memorial to the Confederate Dead at Arlington National Cemetery, entitled “The New South” (see below). A less-well-known work,

    accomplished in 1910, was a bronze entitled “The Outlook” (also referred to as “Southern”), which depicts a Confederate soldier looking out at Lake Erie from the Confederate cemetery at the site of the former prisoner-of-war camp at Johnson’s Island,

    Ohio -- where many of his fellow VMI-men had been imprisoned, and where several were buried. In 1910 he made what appears to have been his final visit to the United States, during which he was a guest at the VMI commencement. In 1914 he completed a statue of U.S. Senator (and Confederate veteran) John W. Daniel which was placed on College Hill in Lynchburg, Virginia. Ezekiel’s last known work (1917) was a bronze statue of fellow Richmond resident and artist, Edgar Allen Poe, placed in Baltimore’s Wyman Park.

    An article in The Washington Times (Aug. 25, 2001) by Chaplain (Col.) Alister C. Anderson, USA (Retired), which gives the title of Ezekiel’s Arlington monument as “The Righteous Cause” rather than “The New South,” adds:

    The monument was commissioned and financed by the United Daughters

    of the Confederacy and has been maintained by that group since its

    presentation to President Woodrow Wilson, who accepted it as “a gift to

    the nation” on June 4, 1914. Surrounding it are the graves of more than

    450 Confederate soldiers, wives and civilians…The ideas that Ezekiel

    conveyed in his monument can be studied by viewing the work in three

    distinct sections from top to base: At the top, he depicts the religious

    beliefs of the Southern people; in the midsection, the culture of the South;

    and in the third section, the political principles that led 11 states into

    secession.

    At the summit, the graceful figure of a woman representing the South

    stands serenely, looking consolingly on the graves below. Her left hand

    holds a laurel wreath that represents the South’s moral victory in the war

    despite her conquest…The wreath symbolizes also the love and honor she

    bestows upon her fallen sons and daughters. Her right hand holds both the

    plow and the pruning hook, which replace the sword and spear of her

    desperate struggle…Below the words of Isaiah is sculpted a frieze of 14

    shields bearing the coats of arms of the 13 states of the Confederacy --

    including Kentucky and Missouri, which the South considered to have

    seceded -- and Maryland, which would have voted to secede had President

    Lincoln not circumvented that by arresting her legislature. The shields of

    the 13 remind us that 13 Colonies seceded from a tyrannical British

    government…This female figure stands upon a pedestal, the

    circumference of which is embossed in bas-relief with four cinerary urns,

    which commemorate the Southern dead.

    Below the urns are the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah describing the noble intentions of the Southern people after the war: “They shall beat their swords into plow-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.” This section implies what Ezekiel personally experienced, that the war brought forth among the Confederate armies a great revival of religious faith…In the middle section, Southern culture is portrayed by 32 life-size figures and several more in bas-relief to represent the sacrifice and heroism of the Southern people. In the center, the war goddess Athena holds up a wounded, falling female figure -- representing conquest -- who is resting on her shield, upon which is inscribed the word

    “Constitution.”…Around the circumference, soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy march into battle, and six vignettes depict Southern families facing separation, sacrifice and the horrible consequences of war…Near the front, Ezekiel sculpted a black Confederate soldier under arms to symbolize thousands of black men who were integrated into the ranks of the Confederate army with white soldiers. (This is in contrast to the Federal armies, in which black soldiers were segregated into units commanded only by white officers.) [This is, in 2007, a highly arguable assertion among Civil War researchers.]

    Ezekiel recognized Southerners’ reverence for the Bible. He knew that as

    people of great courage, they remembered how their ancestors in both biblical and more recent times had been persecuted by their governments. They were ready to risk everything to preserve their “unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Thus, Ezekiel sculpted a

    minister of the Gospel comforting his weeping wife while bestowing a blessing on his son, who is preparing to leave for war with a rifle on his shoulder.

    The Great Seal of the Confederate States of America is attached to the base, and below it is the inscription: “To our dead Heroes by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.” The seal depicts George Washington, with the Latin inscription “Deo Vindice” (God Vindicates). Southerners

    revered the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, identifying themselves with the Colonial army of Washington and believing their struggle was a Second War of Independence.

    On the back of the monument is a refrain describing how Southern soldiers felt about the war and their responsibility as citizens. The words were written by the Rev. Randolph McKim, a Confederate army chaplain who later was rector of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Washington: “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 Suffered All, Sacrificed All, Dared All - And Died.”…Below that inscription, Ezekiel placed the words

    from the epic poem “Pharsalia” by the Roman poet and historian Marcus

    Annaeus Lucan: “Victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni.” (The

    winning cause pleased the gods, but the losing cause pleased Cato.) Here

    the sculptor draws a comparison of the War Between the States and the

    war between Julius Caesar and the Roman senator Pompey. The poem is a

    condemnation of the civil war and emphasizes the horror the Roman state

    inflicted upon itself…Pompey was an admirer of Cato the Younger, a

    statesman devoted to the political principles and moral virtues of the early

    Roman Republic. Pompey’s army was defeated by Caesar’s legions and

    his, as well as Cato’s, hopes for a republican form of government were

    crushed…Thus, Cato symbolizes the South’s moral victory in attempting

    to maintain the political ideals of a constitutional democratic republic

    while being overthrown by a centralized federal government.

    Ezekiel has given Americans a most moving memorial to honor hundreds

    of thousands of Southern soldiers and civilians, both black and white, who

    gave their lives in what they firmly believed was a righteous cause…Some

    irony, perhaps reflecting twentieth century reality, is found in the fact that

    this American-sponsored Confederate memorial was made by an

    expatriate living in Italy and was finished by a German firm. In the

    northeast corner is the mark: “MADE BY/AKTEN-GESSELLSCHAFT

    GLADENBECK/BRONZE FOUNDRY BERLIN -

    FRIEDRICHSCHGEN, GERMANY.”

    Ezekiel also reportedly had an unspecified work in Westminster Abbey, and another in a Paris chapel, per The Dictionary of American Biography, which added

    beautifully:

    He was the last of the American artist-expatriates of his generation; his art

    forms a link between mid-Victorian smugness and twentieth century

    searching. America bore him, Germany trained him, Italy inspired him: all

    three countries had his love and possess his works.

    Ezekiel was trapped in Rome by a phenomenon of the twentieth century -- the first of two World Wars. Characteristically, he put aside his sculptures to help organize the American-Italian Red Cross. Shortly afterward on Mar. 27, 1917, seven months and a day short of his 73rd birthday, he died in Rome, where he had maintained his studio in the famed Baths of Diocletian until it had been taken as an adjunct to the National Museum. He had then acquired another studio near the Piazza del Popolo and municipal authorities had given him a residence in the Tower of Belisarius, in which he had died.

    A business card of his surfaced in 2001; it revealed the correct form of address as Cavaliere; it was imprinted:

     Cav. M. Ezekiel,

     Roma 18 Plaza Termini

    Because the war prevented transoceanic transportation of his remains, Ezekiel’s body was temporarily interred in the family crypt of Adolpho De Bosis. In life, Ezekiel had been honored by several Italian kings and a German Kaiser; General Robert E. Lee; U.S. presidents Grant, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson; and such notables as Mark Twain, Thomas Nelson Page, J. P. Morgan, Anthony J. Drexel, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Franz Liszt, among others. A New York Times dispatch from Rome reported his demise:

    The death of Moses Ezekiel, the distinguished and greatly beloved

    American sculptor, who lived in Rome for more than forty years, caused

    universal regret here.

    In the end, however, his heart had already returned to his Virginia roots, and especially to “The VMI, where every stone and blade of grass is dear to me, and the name of the cadet of the VMI, the proudest and most honored title I can ever possess.” His body was shipped aboard the Duca degli Abruzzi from Naples, Italy, on Feb. 27, 1921.

    True to his loyal words, reportedly based on precise instructions in his will, in a Mar. 31, 1921 burial ceremony -- the first held in the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, and presided over by U.S. Secretary of War John W. Weeks -- Ezekiel was laid to rest next to his Confederate memorial. Flanking his flower-bedecked and American flag-covered casket, were six VMI cadet captains (including future U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, Cadet First Captain Randolph McCall Pate 1921), and two other cadets. The Archeological Institute of America also noted, “The occasion was notable as being the first time an American artist has been interred with military honors in the National Cemetery.” At the gravesite, a small bronze plate on a small headstone

    was placed. It read simply, but most eloquently:

     Moses J. Ezekiel

     Sergeant of Company C

     Battalion of Cadets of the

     Virginia Military Institute

    During the funeral the U.S. Marine Band appropriately played Liszt’s “Love’s Dream,” and a message was read from President Warren G. Harding, which praised

    Ezekiel as “a great Virginian, a great artist, a great American, and a great citizen of world fame.” Harding’s letter added, “Ezekiel will be remembered as one who knew how to translate the glories of his own time into the language of art which is common to all peoples and all times.” A tribute was paid by Rabbi D. Philipson of Cincinnati (who wrote a monograph on Ezekiel the following year); and a Masonic interment was conducted by the Washington Centennial Lodge No.14, F. A. A. M. A separate ceremony had been conducted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the Scottish Rite Temple. An address by fellow sculptor, Henry K. Bush-Brown, was featured (it was published in June 1921 in Art and Archaeology).

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