Arlington’s Confederate Memorial Should Go, Commission Says
The 1914 monument “is problematic from top to bottom,” the Naming Commission’s vice chair said.
The Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery should be dismantled, a panel of officials recommended on Thursday in their third and final report on renaming U.S. military bases, buildings, streets, and monuments that honor the Confederacy.
The Naming Commission, which was established by the 2021 Defense Authorization Act to address systemic racism in the military, is recommending that the statue on top of the memorial and all bronze elements of the monument be removed, but that the granite base should remain in place to avoid disturbing the graves nearby.
In an act meant to heal lingering animosities from the Civil War, Congress authorized the remains of Confederate soldiers to be reinterred there in 1900, eventually burying more than 400 Confederate troops in the graveyard. The monument was erected in 1914. “The history of the Confederate Memorial embodies the complex and contested legacy of the Civil War at Arlington National Cemetery, and in American culture generally,” says a description on the cemetary’s website.
The memorial includes a statue of a woman representing the “American South” surrounded by 14 shields representing the states that joined the Confederacy as well as Maryland, which remained neutral. The monument also includes a Latin quote that portrays the South’s position during the war as a “noble” cause, according to Arlington National Cemetery, using a common phrase of the revisionist “Lost Cause” movement of the early 20th century.
“It is problematic from top to bottom,” Ty Seidule, the vice chair of the naming commission, told reporters.
The set of recommendations previewed on Thursday also included the renaming of two Navy ships, the USS Chancellorsville, named after a Civil War battle, and the USNS Maury, named for Matthew Maury, a naval officer for the Confederacy.
The commission briefed members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees as well as the press on its recommendations on Thursday, but has not yet released its final report, Seidule said.
The total cost of carrying out the recommendations included in all three reports is $62.5 million, according to a press release.
The first report recommended renaming nine Army bases. The second report recommended changing the names of buildings, streets, and monuments that honored the Confederacy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.