Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial: Testimony of British Art Critic and Historian, Alexander Adams

Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial:
Testimony of British Art Critic and Historian,
Alexander Adams
Arlington National Cemetery, 109 year old Confederate Memorial to the Reconciliation and Reunification of our great nation after our bloodiest war.
Arlington National Cemetery, 109 year old Confederate Memorial to the Reconciliation and Reunification of our great nation after our bloodiest war.

[Publisher's Note, by Gene Kizer, Jr. - Alexander Adams is one of the finest art critics and historians alive today. His testimony, below, is also available as a PDF along with the many scholarly white papers written for Defend Arlington. There is a link, following this post, to PDFs of all the white papers and other materials including a recent strong letter from Defend Arlington's attorney, Karen C. Bennett, to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and others.

Bennett points out numerous deliberate violations of federal regulations by the Federal Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery in its haste to support the destruction of the 109 year old Confederate Memorial before the public and lawmakers can stop them.

When you read Adams's testimonial about the enormous artistic and historic value of the Confederate Memorial, you will realize how barbaric and UNAMERICAN the destruction of this magnificent memorial in our nation's most sacred burial ground really is.

Aerial view of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery with over 500 graves of Confederate soldiers and some family in concentric circles around it. The sculptor, internationally renowned Jewish artist Moses Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran, is buried with three others at the base of his beautiful monument to the reconciliation of North and South after the War Between the States.
Aerial view of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery with over 500 graves of Confederate soldiers and some family in concentric circles around it. The sculptor, internationally renowned Jewish artist Moses Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran, is buried with three others at the base of his beautiful monument to the reconciliation of North and South after the War Between the States.
View from the ground at Arlington National Cemetery of the beautiful Confederate Memorial symbolizing the reconciliation of our country after the bloody War Between the States. Photo courtesy Derrick Johnson.
View from the ground at Arlington National Cemetery of the beautiful Confederate Memorial symbolizing the reconciliation of our country after the bloody War Between the States. Photo courtesy Derrick Johnson.

This is the most symbolic monument in American history because it involves the central event in American history, our War Between the States. Before the war, states were sovereign and supreme over the federal government.

After the war, the federal government was supreme over the states.

To gaze on the Confederate monument is to contemplate battlefields drenched in blood and strewn with dead and dying men, who back home had grieving families, widows and children, parents who got the horrifying news that their young man, their little boy, was killed and buried in a place they will never know or be able to visit and grieve.

Around 750,000 died in the War Between the States and over a million were maimed out of a national population of 31 million. In World War II, we lost around 400,000 out of a national population of 132 million.

President William McKinley, a former Union soldier, came up with the idea for a Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. He said after the Spanish-American war in 1898:

. . . every soldier's grave made during our unfortunate civil war is a tribute to American valor . . . And the time has now come . . . when in the spirit of fraternity we should share in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers . . . The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act and if it needed further justification it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in this year just passed by the sons and grandsons of those heroic dead.

The memorial was enthusiastically endorsed by Congress and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. Taft gave an eloquent speech at the UDC ceremony the evening of the laying of the cornerstone. Wilson spoke at the June 4, 1914 dedication as did Union and Confederate veterans and others who all supported reconciliation, binding up the nation's wounds and moving forward. Other presidents including Barack Obama sent wreaths of commemoration or flowers each year.

But to the Woke naming commission and current commissioners on the Federal Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery, none of that matters.

Any commissioner who supports the destruction of a 109 year old monument symbolizing the reconciliation of our great country is unfit to walk the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery much less serve on its advisory board.

All of this came about so one of the most historically ignorant people in American history, Elizabeth Warren, could crow about her "virtue." Warren knows nothing about Southern history and even less about her own: ". . . Warren held herself out as Native American, allowing Harvard Law School to use her as cover for its impotent diversity efforts" and:

According to a much-cited investigation by the Boston Globe, Warren consistently checked "white" on personnel forms throughout her career, including in 1981, 1985, and 1998 while employed at the University of Texas. But in the 1986-1987 edition of the Association of American Law School's directory and eight subsequent editions, Warren listed herself as a minority. She began identifying as Native American on personnel forms three years into her post at the University of Pennsylvania. And while multiple professors have attested to the fact that Warren was considered white during the hiring process at Harvard University, in 1995 she self-identified as Native American, and the school's statistics were updated to reflect as much. Harvard recorded Warren as Native American from 1995 to 2004. [https://theintercept.com/2018/10/16/elizabeth-warren-dna-video-native-american-harvard/, accessed 12-3-22]

Warren was supported by Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee led by Jim Inhofe when Republicans controlled it. Inhofe told President Trump repeatedly that he would remove the part of the NDAA FY2021 that would change United States Army base names in the South, but he is a liar and his lies have now led to the imminent desecration of Arlington National Cemetery unless we stop it.

At a time when we are in a recruiting crisis in the United States Military, it is absurd to insult the region from where 44% of military personnel are recruited. Military service has always been revered in the South and part of that comes from admiration for the valor of our Confederate ancestors fighting for independence and defending their homes and families from an invasion 1861 to 1865.

We are damn proud of our Confederate ancestors and proud of their descendants like Medal of Honor winners and legends Audie Murphy of Texas and Alvin York of Tennessee.

We are damn proud of the Southerners who won the War of 1812 in New Orleans when Elizabeth Warren's slave-trading New Englanders were committing treason with the Hartford Convention.

It is important to write your Congressional representatives and tell them that the demolition of the 109 year old Confederate Memorial to reconciliation would be a stain on Arlington National Cemetery for all time and simply must be stopped now.

The Confederate Memorial is a grave marker as shown by the pictures above. It was designed and constructed by internationally renowned Jewish sculptor Moses Ezekiel, himself a Confederate veteran, a graduate of VMI. He is buried with three other Southerners at the base of his beautiful monument thus making it their headstone but also the grave marker for 462 other Confederate graves arranged in concentric circles around the monument and an integral part of the memorial as intended by Congress, several presidents and veterans North and South.

There are important links at the end of this outstanding testimonial by Alexander Adams.

Download the PDFs of Defend Arlington's white papers. You can download all of them with one click. Share them far and wide.

Send the PDF letter from Defend Arlington's attorney, Karen C. Bennett, to your Congressional representatives. Email it or print it and mail it with a note.

Bureaucrats on the Federal Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery MUST be held accountable and forced to obey the law and federal regulations.]

Testimony regarding Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial submitted to the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery Open Session 

by Alexander Adams (British art critic, historian, author)

7-8 November 2022

Standing of submitter

I am a British cultural critic and art historian, who has written six books and over 1,000 articles over the course of a 20-year career. I have frequently written on the areas of free speech and historical preservation. In the course of researching my book Iconoclasm, Identity Politics and the Erasure of History (2020, Imprint Academic) I encountered many examples of politically motivated intolerance that manifested itself in the historical suppression of defeated groups. In that book, I extensively discussed and catalogued the recent destruction of Confederate heritage. Although I have not seen the Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial in person – I am rarely able to visit Washington DC, sadly – I have seen photographs and read descriptions. I have often reviewed sculpture of the same period and style as this memorial.

General response to the Final Report of the Naming Commission

I was alarmed by the Naming Commission’s Final Report, particularly with regard to Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial (the Memorial). The Memorial marks a reconciliation of sorts between the sides, both the few living veterans and their descendants. Such serious and dignified memorial work, consecrated by the nation as a whole, is a tribute to American and Christian virtues of charity and hope. By removing such a symbol of reconciliation, the implication is that there can be no end to the Civil War, that the future must see that eradication of a historical legacy and that includes unending humiliation of the legatees of the defeated side.

When I consider the Naming Commission’s recommendations, I am reminded of the words of your President Lincoln: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” That is, it is the duty of the victors to extend charity and compassion to the defeated side’s veterans, widows and orphans – and their descendants – by allowing them to honour their dead as they see fit and (incidentally) as the Union victors saw fit to allow them.

Legal objections

On legal grounds, it seems that the Naming Commission has exceeded its authority by making a recommendation about the destruction of the Memorial, as it is a grave marker. According the page 4 of the Final Report (part III), one of the renaming criteria given to the commission (as stipulated in Section 370) is “Asset is not a grave marker.” According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (dated 24 February 2014, pp. 25-6) four soldiers are buried at its base. These include Civil War soldier and sculptor Corporal Moses Ezekiel, whose work the memorial is. The Memorial it is an actual grave marker, marking the burial site of dead soldiers, and is located in the National Cemetery, making it a functional or symbolic grave marker. It is therefore outside the remit of the Naming Commission.

Artistic significance

Having viewed a large amount of public statuary from the beaux-arts era (1850-1914), it is my professional opinion that the Memorial is a serious, iconographically complex and technically accomplished piece of art. In my view, it is a handsome sculpture and an entirely appropriate funerary monument. I consider it an internationally significant piece of art of its type and era. Any nation should be proud to host such a magnanimous and dignified monument.

The inscription “And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” provides a Biblical guidance to turning from war to peace. This is echoed by the personification of the South, which holds the wreath of glory and touches the plough of peaceful prosperity. The frieze below depicts the contributions of those who supported the war effort.

It was made for its specific site with a specific purpose in mind by the artist and commissioners, so that relocating it would do its meaning great damage. Relocating it would remove a major part of the effect and distort its integrity as surely as cutting away a figure or effacing an inscription would.

Historical significance

It is worth noting that it is rare for a nation to mark the sacrifices and loses of the losing side in a civil war. This makes the Memorial internationally significant, as an example of the exceptional history of the USA and the efforts to reconcile the sides after the Civil War. It shows black and white soldiers working together, overturning expectations and putting the record the complexity of historical fact, which it is not our generation’s place to suppress.

The fact that Presidents McKinley, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson (of both Democrat and Republican Parties) supported the erection and dedication of the Memorial gives former presidential support a non-partisan character. On 4 June 1914, President Wilson dedicated the Memorial with these words: “And, now, it has fallen to my lot to accept in the name of the great Government which I am privileged for the time to represent this emblem of a reunited people. I am not so much happy as proud to participate in this capacity on such an occasion,—proud that I should represent such a people. Am I mistaken, ladies and gentlemen, in supposing that nothing of this sort could have occurred in anything but a democracy? The people of democracy are not related to their rulers as subjects are related to a government. They are themselves the sovereign authority, and as they are neighbors of each other, quickened by the same influences and moved by the same motives, they can understand each other. They are shot through with some of the deepest and profoundest instincts of human sympathy. They choose their governments; they select their rulers; they live their own life, and they will not have that life disturbed and discolored by fraternal misunderstandings.”

Wilson’s consideration of democracy healing wounds and allowing fractured populations to express fraternal sympathy is a lesson to those who seek to maintain democracy as an American civic value. When we look at other countries, we do not find similar generosity extended to the defeated. This makes the Memorial rare. Regardless of one’s own views on the Civil War, it is a duty to preserve monuments constructed by those who had direct first-hand experience of the war and its veterans.

Response of Jewish groups

The fact that commissioners chose a sculptor who was Jewish is significant, as it shows generosity towards a group considered marginal at the time. The artist recognised the seriousness of his task and considered it an honour, as witnessed by his letter of 11 February 1911 (Exhibit A). The destruction of the Memorial – which is what any removal would amount to – would be an insult to the artist and reduce the cultural breadth of the nation. A Jewish writer has explained his objects eloquently in a letter I received, submitted as Exhibit B. The author concludes, “We would urge you to leave the Arlington Confederate Memorial exactly as our forefathers intended it.”

Recommendation of submitter

My professional advice is that I strongly recommend that the Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial remains unaltered, for reasons of historical and artistic integrity.

Alexander Adams

7/8 November 2022

Publisher's Note: Please download the PDF of Mr. Adams' Testimony, which includes his Exhibits A and B. They are not included here because it would make this post too long. They are well-worth reading. Just click the link below, or here: PDF White Papers from Defend Arlington.

Links to Important Resources

Here is a link to an informative nine minute video, "The Arlington Confederate Monument," produced by the Abbeville Institute.

The Arlington Confederate Monument

Here is a link to the outstanding scholarly PDF white papers written for Defend Arlington. You can download them all with one click. Please share them far and wide, especially the letter from Defend Arlington's attorney, Karen C. Bennett, to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

PDF White Papers from Defend Arlington

Here is link to an excellent video refuting point by point a historically false Prager University video by Ty Seidule, who is on the naming commission. This one is produced by Bode Lang and entitled "The Civil War Was Not for Slavery."

Click Here for Bode Lang's excellent video,
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