A Tale of Two Monuments

This past weekend saw an interesting contrast in two monuments erected to remember the contributions of southerners to American history.

The first monument was dedicated at Shiloh National Military Park. It commemorates the gallantry of Confederate soldiers from Mississippi who took part in that bloody clash. Other states with Confederate units at Shiloh had already dedicated monuments at Shiloh, but Mississippi was absent.

Courtesy NPS
Courtesy NPS
Courtesy NPS
Courtesy NPS

Local coverage of the event can be found here and here.

It’s a handsome monument, judging from some pictures I’ve seen elsewhere. The sculptor’s work should be familiar to anyone who has gone to Vicksburg and seen his commemoration of other Mississippi soldiers:
DSC01276That’s right … the monument to Mississippi’s black Union soldiers at Vicksburg.

Now, you would think that people who see Confederate heritage as a way to honor the sacrifices of the Confederate fighting man would feature this handsome and fitting addition to the Shiloh battlefield. But that interest seems to have been limited to those people who were in the area or who want to honor Mississippi’s Confederates. Maybe it’s all about state rights after all … because over in Georgia, the organization usually associated with the preservation of Confederate heritage, the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, decided to weigh in against a plan to erect a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., atop Stone Mountain. Kevin Levin’s offered his take here.

What did our gallant Georgians say today?

The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans responded today to the proposal by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to erect a monument to MLK, former black civil rights activist.  This decision by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association is wholly inappropriate in that it is an intentional act of disrespect toward the stated purpose of the Stone Mountain memorial from its inception as well as a possible violation of the law which established the Stone Mountain Memorial Association and charged it with promoting the mountain as a Confederate memorial.

The Venable family, which owned Stone Mountain in the early 1900′s, leased the face of the mountain to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916 for the purpose of creating a carved memorial to the Confederacy.  The UDC contracted Gutzon Borglum, who later sculpted the Mount Rushmore carving; after the work was halted due to a disagreement with Borglum, the carving remained unfinished for several decades.  As the state began to discuss interest in reviving the memorial project as a state project, the Venable family deeded the land to the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, Inc. in 1956.  Two years later, in 1958, the state of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain; and the General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association expressly to maintain the mountain and all adjacent property as a Confederate memorial and complete a portion of the original design for the carving.   

The act of the General Assembly which created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association specifically states the park, including both the mountain and all adjacent property, is to be maintained and operated as a Confederate memorial (OCGA 12-3-191).   The erection of monuments to anyone other than Confederate heroes in Stone Mountain Park is in contradistinction to the purpose for which the park exists and would make it a memorial to something different.  The park was never intended to be a memorial to multiple causes but solely to the Confederacy.  Therefore, monuments to either Michael King or soldiers of any color who fought against the Confederacy would be a violation of the purpose for which the park was created and exists. The opinions of the park’s current neighbors and opponents are of no bearing in the discussion.

Furthermore, the erection of a monument to anything other than the Confederate Cause being placed on top of Stone Mountain because of the objections of opponents of Georgia’s Confederate heritage would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters.  Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.

In short, Stone Mountain is a Confederate park, period. That the King Center is private property (within the boundaries of an NPS site) while Stone Mountain is a state park appears to have eluded their fine minds. One glance at what goes on at Stone Mountain suggests that the area is more than simply a Confederate memorial.

However, this statement is rather mild compared to what appeared elsewhere, as you can see here and here, with some of the familiar names sounding off. How predictable … I told you so. Talk about making people jump through hoops. 🙂

The language is ugly, sometimes blatantly racist. But it is also typical. However, it is only fair to note that Billy Bearden for once wanted to set the record straight:

Billy 3

Funny. but I never read this information on Backsass. Guess its author was too busy blasting blacks and Muslims (and me) to tell the truth.

In short, on a weekend when advocates of Confederate heritage had a chance to show us it is all about honoring the service and sacrifices of the Confederate soldier, all too many familiar faces and their supporters decided to show us what they are really about. You can’t tell me you’re surprised.


6 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Monuments

  1. Sandi Saunders October 12, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    Sadly, I am not remotely surprised either. So typical. They can muster and rally and protest all over the nation to stir shit up but can’t be bothered to actually STFU and come honor any soldiers at a legitimate new monument. They continue to shame the South but typify the Confederacy.

    • Andy Hall October 12, 2015 / 4:51 pm

      They can muster and rally and protest all over the nation to stir shit up but can’t be bothered to actually STFU and come honor any soldiers at a legitimate new monument.

      A while back there was a parade in Fredericksburg to commemorate an 1867 Decoration Day event, something that was at time an exclusive observance for Union veterans and families. The Virginia Flaggers sent two detachments to participate in that event, even though they had not been invited and were not especially welcomed. And in doing so, they skipped participating in a ceremony to remember actual Confederate veterans buried at the cemetery there. If they have a choice between doing some quiet, unheralded good, or doing something that will attract notoriety but not actually accomplish much, they’ll go for the latter every time.

  2. Pat Young October 12, 2015 / 9:45 pm

    I knew about both news items, but I did not connect them. You are right. The Shiloh monumnet is likely to be one of the last large memorials to ordinary Confederate soldiers erected for a while, but it was ignored by the Georgia SCV to make fun of MLK’s name.

  3. Eric A. Jacobson October 14, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    The real (albeit amusing) surprise is that Bearden, Chastain, et al. want to be big Confederate advocates and run for the hills when the Bigham types show up. Bigham is closer in reality to the secessionist leaders, Southern politicians, and slave owners than Bearden or Chastain will ever be.

  4. Gary Walsh October 16, 2015 / 2:13 pm

    Freedom failed for the Negro.

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