07 October 2017

Charlottesville Lee Monument Staying Put?


It would appear things may not go the way many of the the "experts" in the Civil War blogosphere predicted (and were hoping for) in regards to the Chartlottesville Lee monument.
A circuit court judge said Wednesday that a state law protecting war memorials applies retroactively to Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but he wants more proof that the statue of a single historical figure counts as a military monument.Finding no fatal flaw in a Virginia statute preserving war statues, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore’s ruling upheld most of a lawsuit seeking to block Charlottesville from removing the Lee statue from a downtown park. ~ Richmond Times Dispatch
Of course, the final decision has not been rendered and I would imagine, regardless of the decision handed down, the losing side will likely appeal. But the judge's reasoning seems to be on solid ground. The largest question at this hearing seemed to be whether the 1997 law protecting war monuments could be applied "retroactively" to monuments placed prior to 1997. On that point, the court ruled in the affirmative. (Actually, any other ruling would have been absurd, knowing that the vast majority of war memorials in the Commonwealth of Virginia were built and placed long before 1997. The intent of the law is rather obvious to the objective reader.)

But the court is asking for more historical details regarding whether or not the Lee monument would "qualify" as a war memorial. Since Lee is depicted in his uniform with his sword at his side, I think that answer is also obvious. Moreover, the United States Department of the Interior and National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places Registration Form seems to make it abundantly clear that the Lee statue is, indeed, a war memorial:
Paul McIntire instructed that the local chapters of three organizations, the Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy should have entire charge of the planning of the exercises for the unveiling of the sculpture in Charlottesville and it was thus presented to the city on 21 May 1924, during a gala Confederate reunion. One hundred cadets from the Virginia Military Institute paraded through the center of a Charlottesville gaily decorated with Confederate colors …Three-year-old Mary Walker Lee, a great-grand-daughter of General Lee, then pulled the Confederate flag draped over the sculpture away, and the crowd cheered loudly …
Let's see, you have three Veteran's organizations present at the unveiling (which happened to be a Confederate reunion), you have 100 VMI cadets parading and you have a battle flag draping the monument prior the the unveiling. I don't know about you, but veterans, a military parade and battle flags? Yeah, that sounds like the unveiling of a "war memorial" to me.

Assuming the plaintiffs can satisfy the court's request, it's not looking too good for the "remove" folks. We shall see.

General Lee may yet triumph in Charlottesville.

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