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Tags: us army | confederate monument | removal | arlington cemetery

Judge: Army Can Remove Confederate Memorial at Arlington

Tuesday, 19 December 2023 09:14 PM EST

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday ruled that Army crews can continue removing a confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery, as Congress has mandated must be done by Jan. 1.

U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston on Monday ordered a halt to the removal as he considered a lawsuit against the work.

In his Tuesday ruling, he rejected arguments from the group Defend Arlington, who claimed in their lawsuit the Pentagon had skirted federal environmental law in its rush to take down the monument, and the work would disturb nearby graves.

Alston wrote that "this case essentially attempts to place this Court at the center of a great debate" between those who extol "the virtues, romanticism and history of the Old South" and people who say the monuments glorify the slave-owning culture of the Confederacy.

Erected in 1914, the Confederate Memorial is the latest of scores of statues seen by many as monuments to racism. They have been singled out for demolition by state and local leaders across the U.S. since a nationwide public uproar stirred in 2020 by the death of George Floyd.

Congress formally mandated elimination of all names, symbols and statues commemorating the Confederacy throughout the U.S. military in 2021, creating a commission to oversee the endeavor.

Kerry Meeker, head of public affairs for Arlington National Cemetery, said in a written statement the Army would resume removal of the monument "immediately" and that great care would be taken to preserve "the sanctity of all those laid to rest" nearby.

The cemetery's own online critique describes the monument's imagery and inscriptions as sanitizing pre-Civil War slavery, romanticizing secession of the Southern pro-slave states, and perpetuating the noble "Lost Cause" myth of the Confederacy.

The monument features a classically robed woman cast in bronze representing the South standing atop a three-story pedestal adorned with life-sized figures of deities, Confederate soldiers and civilians.

Among those figures are an enslaved African American "mammy" character holding the infant of a white Confederate officer, and an enslaved African American man following his owner off to war, according to the cemetery's description.

The monument overlooks Confederate graves in a special corner of the sprawling cemetery, which stands in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., on the grounds of a former plantation seized from Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of Confederate forces. 

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday ruled that Army crews can continue removing a confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery, as Congress has mandated must be done by Jan. 1.
us army, confederate monument, removal, arlington cemetery
393
2023-14-19
Tuesday, 19 December 2023 09:14 PM
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