The Pentagon’s Naming Commission recommended that the female statue on top and bronze work around on Arlington National Cemetery’s Confederate Memorial be stripped, leaving the granite base. The National Sons of the Confederacy filed a lawsuit to protect the monument from desecration. (Credit: Neil W. McCabe)

Last Civil War Battle Ends: Army Tears Down Arlington’s Confederate Memorial Today

A Georgia Republican congressman blasted the Army, which begins the teardown of Arlington National Cemetery’s Confederate Memorial, also known as the Reconciliation Monument, dedicated in 1914 by President T. Woodrow Wilson, and marking the final resting place for more than 400 Confederate veterans and their wives.

“Joe Biden’s woke DOD intends to move forward with its misguided plan to remove the Reconciliation Monument—which commemorates national unity—from Arlington National Cemetery,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde in his X-post.

“The Left wants division and destruction—not unity and reconciliation,” the Navy combat veteran said.

The congressman also posted a Dec. 15 letter from Army Secretary Christine E. Wormuth, who responded to him on behalf of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III

In the letter, Wormuth told Clyde the Pentagon’s Naming Commission was tasked with removing all Confederate references from all Defense Department assets and that the commission ruled in September 2022 that the Confederate Memorial had to be stripped of its topping statue and its bronze elements before Jan. 1.

Clyde’s Dec. 11 letter to Austin was signed by more than 40 of his colleagues

The letter opens with a simple demand: 

We write to you today to demand that the Department of Defense immediately suspend all removal activities related to the Reconciliation Monument located in Arlington National Cemetery until Congress completes the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process. 

Buried at the foot of the monument is the artist Moses Ezekiel, who created the bronze statue and its program of soldiers saying goodbye to loved ones and marching off to war. Ezekiel, who also created the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia, was the first Jewish student at the Virginia Military Institute. 

At the May 15, 1864, Battle of New Market, Ezekiel and more than 250 of his fellow Keydets marched from Lexington to join the fight, and it was there that one of Jefferson’s great-grandsons, Thomas Garland Jefferson, died in his arms. 

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who opposes the monument’s deconstruction, has arranged with the Army for Ezekiel’s sculptures to be moved to the commonwealth’s New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

The commission was stripping the monument but leaving the stone base because, in its congressional charter, the commission is forbidden from removing grave markers, so with the efficiency of a Bolshevik, the panel leaves the bare marker behind.

Clyde addressed this ruse in his Dec. 11 letter to Austin:

The Reconciliation Monument does not honor nor commemorate the Confederacy; the memorial commemorates reconciliation and national unity. Furthermore, the Naming Commission’s authority explicitly prohibits the desecration of grave sites. Considering the hundreds of gravestones encircling the monument, it would be impossible for these graves to remain untouched if the Department of the Army proceeds with its proposed removal of the monument – both being a clear violation of Congress’ enacted statute and legislative intent.

Wormuth also told Clyde that her hands were tied—she had no choice—because Judge Beryl Howell, a familiar name to conservatives, held that the Pentagon had no discretion after the commission made its decision. 

Howell, a former recording industry lobbyist and wife of a Walt Disney executive at National Geographic, was the judge overseeing Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 20-month investigation into the Russian Collusion Hoax. Howell was also the judge in the recent defamation suit against Rudy Giuliani, and she is the subject of an ethics complaint filed by Rep. Elise Stefanik.  

James Ronald Kennedy, the chief of heritage operations for Sons of Confederate Veterans, told RedState he was not surprised the dismantling of the monument had begun.

“They always told us it would be done the 18th,” he said. “I’m sure that’s why they got everything set up.”

Kennedy said the SCV asked its members not to go to Arlington as the workers strip the monument.

“We are encouraging our people to stay away, but I know there’s a lot that want to be there to protest and or else to see it, to get pictures, et cetera, et cetera,” he said.

“The last thing we need is for some hothead with the SCV logo shirt on to be there yelling, cursing, getting carted away, and have a mini-Jan. 6 situation on our hands,” he said. 

Joseph Ford Cotto, the host of “Dr. Cotto’s Reports,” told RedState that the federal government’s removal of the monument lacks the probity expected from a great power.

“It says a lot about the victor when he removes the monument he erected for his long-defeated foe,” said the doctor of business administration. 

“History is difficult and often unfortunate, yet to erase it does no one any service,” he said. 

“This is made crystal clear when the erasure is done in an ungentlemanly fashion.”

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