An independent commission tasked with implementing sweeping name changes to nine Army bases, two Navy ships, numerous base roads, buildings, athletic fields, and more that honor the Confederacy is saying the total endeavor will cost over $62 million.
The Naming Commission, which was assembled in 2020 as part of the U.S. military’s effort to combat racial injustice, has identified approximately 1,100 examples of military-affiliated properties and resources that require renaming, according to the Associated Press.
Among the list of recommendations is the removal of a Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, which retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, the commission’s vice chair, called “problematic from top to bottom.”
Unveiled in 1914 in Section 16 of the cemetery, the memorial, which was designed by Confederate veteran Moses Jacob Ezekiel, depicts a bronze woman crowned with olive leaves standing on a 32-foot-tall pedestal. On the pedestal are 14 shields engraved with the coats of arms of the 13 Confederate states and Maryland, which neither seceded nor joined the Confederacy.
At the feet of the woman, who represents the South, is the Biblical inscription, “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
Numerous figures encircle the pedestal, including two Black figures designed to embody the image of the faithful slave, according to Arlington’s description. One figure depicts “Mammy,” a woman holding the child of a white officer, and the other, an enslaved man following his owner to war.
Etched into the memorial is the Latin inscription, “Victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Caton,” which translates to “The victorious cause was pleasing to the gods, but the lost cause to Cato.” The phrase gives credence to the Confederacy’s romanticized portrayal of the noble “Lost cause,” while ignoring the horrors of slavery.
Seidule said the Naming Commission is recommending the complete dismantling of the memorial down to its granite base, under which its sculptor Ezekiel happens to be buried.
The recommendations of the independent commission are expected to be implemented by January 2024.
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