Guest Submission: Visions From Monticello

The Jefferson Council champions free speech and intellectual diversity at the University of Virginia. We welcome columns, op-eds, and letters addressing issues affecting the UVA community for publication on our guest forum. We are honored to feature “Visions From Monticello,” a poem written on Independence Day by Colonel John Fenzel, retired senior Army Special Forces officer, acclaimed author, CEO of The World War II Foundation, and friend of The Jefferson Council.


In the shadow of Monticello, where dreams soar high,
I stand and gaze upon the land once new.
A land of promise, where hopes did amplify
The course of history, where freedom grew.
The Revolution, a struggle so profound,
On Lexington Green, the first shots rang.
Across Concord, the cries of war resound,
And the air with freedom’s fervor sang.
Bunker Hill, where valor met despair,
The crimson fields of Saratoga’s fight.
Valley Forge, where frostbitten hearts laid bare
Their suffering beneath the winter’s blight.
In Philadelphia’s hallowed hall,
A declaration bold and fierce was penned.
The Founders’ dream, to break the tyrant’s thrall,
A vision of a nation to ascend.
Yet, from Monticello’s somber height, I ponder,
Would those great men, with vision clear and bright,
Find solace in this land they dared to sunder,
Or grief in what has come to be our plight?
Do echoes of their hopes still ring aloud,
Or has the clamor of our age subdued
The principles in which they once were proud,
To mere reflections of a time imbued?
Would Washington, with steadfast gaze, behold
A nation fractured, yet striving still?
Would Jefferson, with words of wisdom bold,
Find truth within our modern, grinding mill?
In Monticello’s hills, I trace the paths they tread,
From Yorktown’s siege to treaties signed in peace.
I feel the weight of every word they said,
And wonder if our journey’s course would please.
Here, where liberty once found its birth,
And echoes of the past still haunt our ways,
Do we uphold the sanctity of earth,
Or lose ourselves within the fleeting days?
Would Franklin, with his wit and boundless dreams,
See progress in our endless quest for more?
Would Adams, in his fight for justice, deem
Our actions just, our conscience to the core?
In contemplation, Monticello’s shadows fade,
And I, in quiet reverence, muse on,
The legacy our Founders’ hands have made,
And if their dreams, in us, yet linger on.
For in this land, where freedom’s torch still burns,
The quest for justice ever must remain,
To honor those whose vision now returns
To guide us through our triumphs and our pain.
In Monticello’s realm, where dreams and doubts collide,
I find within the past a guiding light,
And hope that through our journey’s winding tide,
We honor all who dared to stand and fight.

Colonel John Fenzel is a retired Army special forces officer and the CEO of The World War II Foundation.

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2 days ago

Meanwhile, last week on revisiting Monticello I was appalled at the sight of ugly green picket fence-type railings on the terraces. Previously since 1940 there were beautiful, aesthetically pleasing white Chippendale style railings which the current Monticello administration determined were not architecturally accurate as to what was originally in place.

It turns out upon researching the subject that Jefferson actually preferred and wanted the Chippendale style as was done over the central portion of the house but apparently he had not gotten around to it by the time of his passing. I happened to speak to an older gentleman in the Monticello administration and he summed it up with, “we gave Jefferson what he had, and not what he wanted.” Nice attitude, right?

So now visitors are treated to a look that is clearly ugly and does not coordinate and tie in aesthetically with what Jefferson did have in place over the central house. But oh they argue it does tie in with the green shutters. Ugly and a detraction from what was beautiful before which was bright and inspiring. Why not just paint the whole dome in rainbow colors? Just another aspect of the minds of these sick useful idiots now in charge of what formerly was an inspiration to the world.