"Who is that?" she asked.
I answered, "It's Robert E. Lee, of course."
"Why would there be a monument to Lee in Dallas?" she asked incredulously.
"I don't know," I admitted, "but I'm pretty sure that's him."
This statue was personally dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came to Dallas for the purpose. The park was built out by his WPA. If you think they were kidding about celebrating Robert E. Lee, they weren't. In addition to the giant equestrian statue, they built a 2/3rds-scale exact replica of his mansion in Arlington.
They also built a lot of stuff that looks a lot more like what I've seen of CCC/WPA projects around the country. This bridge is a good example. They built benches and picnic tables out of similar stone, all of which remain in beautiful shape.
The upshot of this is not that Making America Great Again means that we should resume the mid-century celebration of the military heroes of the Confederacy. No, the thing I want to point out is how magnanimous this action was coming from FDR. He was elected in a similarly heated election, and faced similarly heated opposition after coming into office. Many people thought his CCC was little more than his version of Hitler Youth, which he was going to use to impose totalitarian rule on the nation.
But he didn't do that. He put them to work. Not everything they did was the most obviously sensible thing to do, either. Even if you accept that building a monument to Robert E. Lee served a useful political purpose in unifying Americans and healing older divisions; even if you believe wholeheartedly that building lasting parks and public recreation areas beautifies the country in a worthwhile way; even then, it's not at all clear that anyone really needed a 2/3rds-scale replica of Lee's mansion.
It put people to work, though. It taught them useful skills. It did, in fact, beautify the nation -- as did the CCC's yeoman work on similar parks and monuments around the nation, such as the repairs to the Confederate fortress at Fort Pulaski, or their building of shelters for hikers on the Appalachian trail.
It also showed a way for Americans to join each other in being Americans.
Trump can't fall back on exactly what worked for FDR, and I'm not suggesting that he should. The method is what is important. Put people back to work. Build something good, something that will last, even if it's not the very most obvious and sensible thing. Do it in a way that celebrates America, even the parts of it you may not always truly love. Show magnanimity in victory.