A monument to Confederate soldiers is scheduled to be removed from Arlington National Cemetery by the end of the week.
In 2021, Congress passed a law requiring the Department of Defense to look at removing “names, symbols, displays, monuments, or paraphernalia” commemorating the Confederacy.
Arlington’s Confederate Memorial offers a “mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery,” according to a report prepared by a commission set up in response to that legislation. The report notes that an inscription promotes the “Lost Cause” myth, “which romanticized the pre-Civil War South and denied the horrors of slavery.”
The monument, designed by sculptor Moses Ezekiel, was erected in 1914 with congressional approval at the cemetery located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
University of Maryland historian Leslie Rowland told NPR and WBUR’s Here and Now that funds for the memorial were raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which existed largely to “vindicate Confederate soldiers and other members of the Confederate generation.” They did so by “putting forward a sanitized, romanticized version of the pre-Civil War South,” Rowland said.
Arlington National Cemetery says bronze pieces of the memorial will be removed, and its granite base will be left in place “to avoid disturbing surrounding graves.” According to a press release, the removal will be finished by Dec. 22.
The plan to take down the monument has received pushback from some Republican leaders, including more than 40 members of Congress who’ve called for halting the removal. The Washington Post reported in September that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has asked the Virginia Military Institute to display the statue at a Civil War museum it operates.