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Now's Your Chance To Speak Up Against The Statue Destroyers
The deadline for commenting on the Arlington Reconciliation Memorial is Saturday night
The fate of the Arlington Cemetery Reconciliation Memorial rests in your hands. The U.S. Army’s made clear its intention to tear down this important piece of American history, but by law is required to solicit public comment.
Last week, Arlington National Cemetery hosted its first meeting for public comment regarding the planned removal of the Civil War memorial commemorating the fallen Confederates buried beside it (including the sculptor, Moses Ezekiel). In an excellent turn of events, all but one single speaker enthusiastically opposed tearing down the “Reconciliation Memorial.” There’s still time to speak up, too: the deadline to submit your opinion is 11:59 PM on Saturday, Sept. 2.
You can read about the meeting from The Daily Caller News Foundation’s reporting below. In the meantime, click here to learn how you can submit your comment on the fate of the memorial. History will thank you.
The 1914 unveiling of the memorial. National Photo Company/Gift of Herbert A. French. Wikipedia.
‘Will Not Unite But Only Divide’: Americans Decry Arlington National Cemetery’s Plan To Remove Confederate Memorial
By Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
Americans decried Arlington National Cemetery’s (ANC) plans to remove the Confederate Memorial as an affront to the unity and reconciliation it symbolizes at a public comment session Wednesday evening.
The Army solicited feedback from the public as part of a legal process determining the memorial’s historic significance and how to best carry out the dismantling after a congressionally-mandated study found the structure troublesome, according to the removal page. Dozens of respondents — many identifying as veterans and claiming both Union and Confederate veterans in their heritage — offered feedback in a session Wednesday that ran three hours, making the case for saving the memorial because of its artistic value and function as a symbol of restoration.
“With the monument’s destruction the reconciliation message that Lincoln, Grant, McKinley Taft and Roosevelt advocated will be lost,” Brett Gregory, one commenter, said. Removing it “will not unite, but only divide,” he said.
Congress created the Naming Commission in 2021 tasked with identifying and removing names, bases and other Department of Defense assets honoring the Confederate States of America “or any person who served voluntarily” for the Confederacy. The Pentagon’s final report recommended removing the bronze upper and leaving the granite base intact to avoid disturbing graves.
But, commenters said the memorial does not so much honor the Confederacy as commemorate a movement toward reunification after the Union’s victory.
They worried about the precedent set by dismantling the memorial, creating, as commenter Joseph Judson Smith III described, the “paradox of destruction of a monument to peace, harmony and reconciliation.”
One participant, Bob Heister, disagreed.
“There should be no memorials to those who took up arms against the United States. Reconciliation this way? No thanks,” he said.
Former President William McKinley, a Union veteran, commissioned the memorial in 1898, according to the memorial’s webpage on the ANC site. Congress allowed for more than 400 Confederate veterans to be reinterred in graves forming concentric circles around the memorial in a bid to foster healing from the Civil War half a century prior.
“The elaborately designed monument offers a nostalgic, mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery,” ANC wrote.
The Confederate Memorial in 2011. Tim1965/Wikimedia.
A statue of a woman representing the “American South” holds a laurel wreath, plow stock and pruning hook encircled by 14 shields representing the 11 Confederate states and border states Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. Of the the 32 figures engraved into the pedestal, two appear as slaves and an inscription pays tribute to the idea of the Southern states’ war as a “lost cause.”
ANC sought “alternatives that will avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects of the monument’s removal” but unsuccessfully instructed commenters to avoid calling for no action.
The memorial also serves as a grave marker, and removing it would be both illegal and an affront to those buried at Arlington, many commenters argued.
Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish-American Confederate veteran and Virginia Military Institute cadet, is buried at the base, according to a the cemetery’s page for the structure. A few commenters lobbied accusations of antisemitism based on Ezekiel’s Jewish roots.
‘We should memorialize the country we are today by reflecting this reality and leave the monuments of the past to tell the story of the past following the Civil War,” Jennifer London said.
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