The St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee is urging veterans organizations to reconsider hosting events in New Orleans after the city removed several statues from NOLA that prominently feature Confederate leaders.
The committee passed the measure by a unanimous vote on May 29 and said they hope that veterans will avoid holding conferences and other related events in any city that has “removed memorials to fallen warriors, including those who served in the Confederate Army.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered the removal of Confederate statues within the city, and he defended his stance to remove the monuments during a speech he gave shortly after their removal, saying:
“And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame… all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”
Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of the St. Tammany Committee disagreed with those sentiments.
“We asked that the national organizations for the VFW and VVA, who were both scheduled to have their national conferences in New Orleans, not to attend,” Maness told American Military News. “Yes, the men depicted in the statues were on the wrong side, yes their states seceded because of slavery and yes, they lost the war, but the facts are that we reconciled in this country years ago on the veterans issue and Dwight D. Eisenhower is the man that signed the legislation allowing Confederate veterans to be treated the same as other U.S. veterans.”
Retired Navy Cmdr. John Wells told the NOLA Times-Picayune that, “[w]hile we may not agree with their cause in hindsight, many if not most – including officers – donned the CSA uniform out of a sense of duty. Most never owned or even saw a slave.”
Both Wells and Maness had hoped their efforts would have allowed the passage of House Bill HR-71, which would force communities wishing to remove such monuments to require a referendum, but it was not passed following eight hours of testimony by either side this week.