A Missouri congressman is asking the mayor of St. Louis to bring down a 32-foot-high stone Civil War memorial in the city’s Forest Park.
The Confederate Memorial was erected in 1914 by the Ladies’ Confederate Monument Association. “To avoid provoking further antagonism to the project, the Association declared that the design they would choose could not depict any figure of a Confederate soldier or object of modern warfare,” reads a history of the monument. The shaft of the monument bears “The Angel of the Spirit of the Confederacy” and below that is a bronze sculpture “depicting the response of the South to this spirit as a family sends a youth off to war.”
“On the back of the shaft, designed by William Trueblood, is a tribute ‘To the Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors of the Southern Confederacy,’ written by St. Louis minister Robert Catlett Cave, who had served as a Confederate soldier from Virginia. Beneath that is a quotation by Robert E. Lee: ‘We had sacred principles to maintain and rights to defend for which we were duty bound to do our best, even if we perished in the endeavor.’”
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay wrote last week to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, stressing that “now is the time to replace the Confederate Memorial, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch in Forest Park.”
“Some may disagree and reflect upon this memorial as a symbol of southern culture and Civil War reverence,” Clay said. “But, symbols matter and should reflect who we are as a people today. Divisive, alienating, racially charged symbols do not accurately represent the goodness and fullness of the people of the city of St. Louis.”
The congressman called it “unfortunate” that the mass murder of nine people at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston brought the issue to the forefront. “However, action must be taken to ensure that divisive symbols, such as the Confederate Memorial, do not have relevance in our city’s future.”
“Let us lead and influence how we are perceived by the world…as a force for good, and in solidarity with those advocating racial healing. It is not only time for a reappraisal of all public symbols that reflect upon the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery, but also time for removal. Symbols associated with this country’s racist, oppressive past should not be elevated or displayed in public places.”
Other statues and monuments in the park include a Korean War memorial, Thomas Jefferson, Union Gen. Franz Sigel, and St. Francis of Assisi.
Clay will be introducing with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) a bill that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from allowing the display of the Confederate flag at national cemeteries which it manages across the nation.