Judge Issues Restraining Order Blocking Removal of Confederate Memorial From Arlington National Cemetery

A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the controversial removal of a memorial to Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

An NGO called Defend Arlington filed a lawsuit in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sunday, seeking the restraining order.

Defend Arlington has led a campaign opposing the removal of the Reconciliation Monument in Arlington National Cemetery, which is run by the U.S Army.

The group noted on its website that “the monument was erected in the spirit of reconciliation and was the brainchild of US President McKinley, himself a Union veteran, after the Spanish-American War.” It’s removal, the group said, is “outrageous and driven by bigotry.”

The monument was designed by Sir Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish VMI Cadet who served in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army. It is literally the grave of Ezekiel, who died in WWI and was buried at the base.

This proposal is outrageous and is driven by bigotry, hate and divisiveness and many Jewish Americans view it as anti-semitic.

Work had already begun to remove the memorial, but according to ABC27,  the statue still “remains in place on cemetery grounds.” The removal was expected to be completed this week.

The Arlington National Cemetery put out a press release on December 16 claiming that it was complying with a Congressionally mandated requirement to remove the Confederate Memorial by January 1, 2024.

A cemetery spokesperson told ABC7 that “the removal was required by Congress, and that it was complying with environmental and historic-preservation regulations.”

But according to Defend Arlington, the legislation, the Confederate Statue Removal Act,  specifically excluded grave markers.

The group argued in its lawsuit that the Army was violating regulations by seeking a quick removal of the memorial.

“The removal will desecrate, damage, and likely destroy the Memorial longstanding at ANC as a grave marker and impede the Memorial’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” the lawsuit states.

The temporary restraining order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston said that a lawyer for the plaintiffs represented to the court that the work at the memorial involves the disturbance of gravesites.

In a footnote, Alston wrote that he “takes very seriously the representations of officers of the Court and should the representations in this case be untrue or exaggerated the Court may take appropriate sanctions.”

On Friday, the cemetery had said in its statement that “the area around the Memorial will be protected to ensure no impact to the surrounding landscape and grave markers.”

Last week, a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block removal of the memorial filed by the same plaintiffs. Alston, in his order issued Monday, told the parties to be prepared to discuss how that case affects his decision whether to extend his temporary restraining order beyond Wednesday.
The statue, unveiled in 1914, features a bronze woman, crowned with olive leaves, standing on a 32-foot pedestal, and was designed to represent the American South. According to Arlington, the woman holds a laurel wreath, a plow stock and a pruning hook, with a biblical inscription at her feet that says: “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

Some of the figures also on the statue include a Black woman depicted as “Mammy” holding what is said to be the child of a white officer, and an enslaved man following his owner to war.

Last year an independent commission recommended the memorial be taken down as part of a report to Congress on renaming of military bases and assets that commemorate the Confederacy.

More than 409 Republicans complained in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the commission overstepped its authority when it recommended that the monument be removed.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R.) also disagrees with the decision and was reportedly planning to move the statue to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in the Shenandoah Valley.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), a combat veteran who served as an U.S. Navy officer for 28 years, including three combat deployments to Kuwait and Iraq, noted on Fox News that while the Biden regime pretends it wants to “unify” Americans, “trying to take down this monument is doing the exact opposite thing.”

“We now have a Divider-in-Chief in the White House,” he said.

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Wednesday.

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Notable Replies

  1. We are living in a country where one of the two major parties has turned history on its head and assumed the mantle of the vicious reconstruction Republicans. It was ugly then and even uglier now.

  2. IIRC President Trump vetoed the bill which formed the committee that has been doing such damage. Of course the Stupid Party helped override that.

  3. The judge who issued the restraining order is a Trump appointee. Hope lives. And does anyone remember the rampage that the Taliban conducted in Afghanistan tearing down monuments? How are these goons any different.

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