Madison officials consider fate of Confederate monuments
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Madison officials are considering options for Confederate monuments located in a local cemetery.
The monuments are located in the city-owned Forest Hill Cemetery, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Officials are considering removing the monuments, or adding signage or another monument that would contribute historical context.
The city Landmarks, Park, and Equal Opportunities commissions recently held a joint meeting to gather public opinion about the monuments.
There were originally two Confederate monuments in the cemetery. Mayor Paul Soglin ordered their removal in August following the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The city ended up only removing a small plaque that was built in 1981 and called Confederate soldiers buried at the cemetery “unsung heroes.” The remaining monument was commemorates 140 Confederate soldiers and a caretaker. It was created in 1906 by the United Daughter of the Confederacy.
Featuring the United Daughters of the Confederacy is offensive because the organization supports an alternative view of the Civil War that minimizes slavery, said Kathy Walsh.
“I don’t want to denigrate the people who died,” Walsh said. “I don’t know what was in their mind. I leave them respectfully buried, but I don’t want the name United Daughters of the Confederacy associated with public space.”
She suggested the organization’s name be removed from the marker if the statue isn’t removed altogether.
Leaving the monuments in place but adding historical context is the best option, said Tom Garver, a retired art historian.
“Leave the monument there, but tell people about this,” he said. “Don’t take this away; don’t sweep it under the rug.”
But Paul Sherman argued against adding more information.
“I don’t think that we need to have a historical debate within the confines of the cemetery,” Sherman said. “Let’s just leave these soldiers’ markers as they are so they’re identified as human beings who are buried there like everybody else in the cemetery.”
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org