In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson unveiled the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The monument was created by Confederate veteran Moses Jacob Ezekiel and stands 32 feet tall. It features a large bronze statue of a woman symbolizing “the South,” holding a laurel wreath, a plow stock, and a pruning hook, atop a granite base. The monument includes a Biblical verse about turning swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. Images on the monument depict Southern soldiers, civilians, mythology, and a Black slave woman holding a white soldier’s baby, among others.
Under the Biden Administration in 2021, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, establishing the Naming Commission to remove names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia honoring the Confederate States of America.
As part of this provision, Arlington National Cemetery plans to remove the Confederate Memorial from its Confederate section, and a public comment period is open for 30 days.
Arlington National Cemetery was established during the Civil War on land confiscated from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The cemetery was established as a new national cemetery in 1864 due to the need for burial space during the Civil War. Customarily, new sections are established in the cemetery for soldiers from different wars.
Arlington National Cemetery is soliciting public comments on the relocation of the Confederate Memorial to comply with Congress’s mandate. Lawsuits are ongoing regarding the monument’s relocation, but the cemetery is already planning for it. The cemetery emphasizes that the removal process must adhere to applicable laws, policies, and regulations to ensure safety and protect surrounding graves and monuments.