Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery Likely to Be Removed
This weekend I learned through the grapevine that the Congressional Commission, charged with all “Department of Defense items that commemorate the Confederate States of America,” will recommend the removal of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I just recently visited this particular site with a group of history teachers.
It’s a problematic site if ever there was one. The 32-foot tall memorial is located at the center of roughly 265 Confederate graves, including Moses Ezekiel who designed the memorial. It is the second tallest memorial in the entire cemetery.
It is incredibly difficult to explain to people why these graves and memorial exist in a cemetery that began as a site to commemorate the citizen-soldiers who helped to save the Union and abolish slavery. By the early twentieth century, Arlington became the final resting place for servicemen and women who fought and died in all subsequent wars.
I’ve always struggled with the contrast between the location of most of the United States Colored Troops in Section 27—an area that sees very few visitors—and the Confederate section, which is just a stones throw from Arlington House.
The U.S. Army has always been uncomfortable with this particular site and only recently has it begun to take steps toward interpretation. From what I understand, the Army supports its removal…well sort of.
The plan is to remove all the bronze, including the statue at the top, state shields, the frieze reliefs around the center, and the inscriptions. At the end of the process, it will be unidentifiable as a Confederate memorial.
The Confederate graves will remain.
If and when this happens, it will be one of the most significant Confederate monument removals to date.
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