The Reconciliation Memorial, also known as the Confederate Statue, is being removed under the Biden administration from Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery as part of the movement to remove Confederate statues and symbols from locations associated with the U.S. military.
According to The New York Post, the removal of the Reconciliation Memorial stems from the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, which prompted lawmakers to push for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols from military facilities and institutions across the United States.
“As required by Congress and implemented by the Secretary of Defense, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) is required to remove the Confederate Memorial located in Section 16 of ANC,” Arlington National Cemetery’s website states. “A process to prepare for the memorial’s careful removal and relocation has been completed. All bronze elements of the memorial will be relocated. The granite base and foundation will remain in place to avoid disturbing surrounding graves.”
A press release from Arlington National Cemetery noted that safety fencing for the removal of the Reconciliation Monument has been installed and that the removal of the statue is expected to be completed by Dec. 22.
Sharing photos of the Reconciliation Monument on X, formerly Twitter, End Wokeness wrote, “The Biden administration is removing the Reconciliation Monument in Arlington. The monument was built 109 years ago to honor post-Civil War reconciliation and national unity. History is being rewritten before our eyes.”
According to Fox News, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.) has expressed his disagreement with the decision to remove the memorial from Arlington National Cemetery.
Macaulay Porter, a Youngkin spokeswoman, provided a statement to Fox News, saying, “The governor formally asked Secretary Austin to ensure that the grave of Moses Ezekiel and the accompanying memorial atop his grave remain in its revered location at the Arlington National Cemetery.”
Porter added, “The governor is disappointed that the Biden administration still sought to remove the memorial but believes that the Newmarket battlefield state park in the Shenandoah Valley will provide a fitting backdrop to Ezekiel’s legacy as a legendary sculptor and Virginian even though he disagrees with the Biden administration’s decision to remove it.”
In 2022, an independent commission recommended to Congress that the Reconciliation Memorial should be removed along with other symbols related to the Confederacy and the renaming of U.S. military bases, according to The Associated Press. The commission’s report to Congress resulted in a congressional mandate pertaining to the removal of every Confederate memorial by Jan. 1, 2024.
According to The Associated Press, the Reconciliation Memorial was dedicated in 1914. The statue displays a bronze woman with a crown of olive leaves on a 32-foot pedestal. The statue, intended to be a representation of the American South, displays the bronze woman with a plow stock, a pruning hook, and a laurel wreath. The monument also bears a biblical inscription, which says, “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
The Associated Press reported that the controversy over the memorial stems from a depiction of a black woman portrayed as “Mammy,” who is seen holding a white officer’s child, as well as a slave following their owner into battle.
Over 40 House Republicans recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, urging the Pentagon to “immediately suspend” the removal of the monument from Arlington National Cemetery.
“Despite bipartisan support for this monument, the Naming Commission, established by the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, clearly overstepped its legislative authority when it recommended that the Department of the Army remove the Reconciliation Monument from Arlington National Cemetery,” Republicans wrote. “[T]he Reconciliation Monument does not honor nor commemorate the Confederacy; the memorial commemorates reconciliation and national unity.”