Removal of Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery Temporarily Halted by Judge


It was ordered by a federal judge on Monday that a monument to Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery cannot be taken down.

On Monday, workers started to take down the memorial before U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston Jr. gave his order. He said that the plaintiff’s lawyer told the court that the project would disturb graves.

Sunday, a group called Defend Arlington, which is connected to a group called Save Southern Heritage Florida, brought a lawsuit to a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. A meeting was set for Wednesday by Alston.

The removal, which was supposed to be done by the end of the week, was done in reaction to a law passed by Congress and in line with recent efforts to remove symbols honoring slave owners and Confederate leaders.

Congress passed a law in 2021 that told the Department of Defense to remove “names, symbols, displays, monuments, or paraphernalia” that honor the Confederacy.

The Confederate Memorial in Arlington gives a “mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery,” according to a report made by a committee that was created because of that law. There is a writing on the wall that supports the “Lost Cause” myth, which the study says “honored the South before the Civil War and denied the horrors of slavery.”

The memorial was built in 1914 at the cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., with permission from Congress. It was made by sculptor Moses Ezekiel.

Leslie Rowland, a historian at the University of Maryland, told NPR and WBUR’s Here and Now that the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised money for the monument. The group’s main goal was to “vindicate Confederate soldiers and other members of the Confederate generation.” Rowland said they did this by “presenting a cleaned up and romanticized picture of the South before the Civil War.”

Arlington National Cemetery said that the memorial’s metal parts would be taken down, but the memorial’s granite base would stay put “so as not to disturb the graves nearby.” A press statement that came out before the court’s order said that the removal would be done by December 22.

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