Gen. Robert E. Lee is very much a part of the life of Nora Brooks, a school teacher in Union County.
When she presented a first-person historical portrayal of Mildred Childe Lee - seventh child of Gen. Lee - Monday night at Rockingham City Hall for the Richmond County Historical Society, she expressed the feelings of a daughter for a beloved father.
Through the eyes of Lee's daughter, Brooks told of Lee's love of children, giving all seven of his special nicknames. Mildred didn't get her's - "Precious" - until Lee returned from the war with Mexico, some two years after her birth.
Lee graduated second in academic standing in 1829 at the West Point Military Academy. He was first in military bearing. He later became superintendent of the Academy.
"He was such a handsome man," Brooks said as Mildred, recalling how the family loved to watch him ride horses and instruct other family members in doing so, and how he looked in his military uniform.
Lee attempted to shield his family from his military affairs. When he returned from Harper's Ferry after the capture and hanging of John Brown, his response to inquires about it to the family was, "Pay it no mind," she said.
Lee served the United States Army until Virginia seceded from the Union and then served the Confederacy, although he personally felt secession was not the answer.
Brooks recalled how Lee tried to avoid public adoration when after a haircut in a public barbershop people collected his hair clippings as keepsakes. She said after that his hair was cut at home. However, the family would send clippings to those who wrote for keepsakes from Gen. Lee.
When the Civil War was over, she said Lee showed his feelings when at church he was the first person to join a former slave at the altar for communion while sharing a cup with him.
Brooks' portrayal and telling of the more personal side of Gen. Lee was received with a standing ovation at the conclusion. "A first for a society meeting," said Neal Cadieu.
Brooks has taught in Union County Public Schools for 25 years and now teaches honors and advanced placement United States History, Civil War History and Revolutionary War History. Among her many awards, last year she was presented the N.C. Inspirational Teacher Award by N.C. State University.