SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A monument known as the Confederate Memorial could soon be coming to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
In a story first reported by the Washington Post, the VMI Board of Visitors voted last week to take a Confederate monument from Arlington National Cemetery and relocate it to New Market Battlefield in Shenandoah County, which is owned by VMI.
The news comes after the federal government determined the moment should not stay at Arlington National Cemetery, where it is currently located.
According to Arlington National Cemetery’s website, the 32-foot-tall monument, “offers a nostalgic, mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery.”
It goes on to say that the sculpture designed by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran and VMI Graduate, includes two figures “portrayed as African American: an enslaved woman depicted as a “Mammy,” holding the infant child of a white officer, and an enslaved man following his owner to war.”
Plus, a phrase in Latin on the sculpture, “romanticized the pre-Civil War South and denied the horrors of slavery.”
At the board meeting on September 13th, one board member said the statue was “a gift we’re being asked to accept.” He added that Governor Youngkin’s office requested that the monument be housed at the New Market Battlefield.
A spokesperson for Governor Youngkin gave 8News the following statement.
“The governor formally asked Secretary Austin to ensure that the grave of Moses Ezekiel and the accompanying statue atop his grave remain in its revered location at the Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately and in spite of the governor’s insistence, the Biden administration still sought to remove the statue. In order to continue to honor the legacy of Moses Ezekiel, a legendary sculptor and graduate of VMI, the Governor believes that the New Market Battlefield will provide a fitting backdrop to Ezekiel’s legacy even though he disagrees with the Biden administration that the statue should have been slated for removal.”
It’s important to note that this is not yet a done deal. Arlington National Cemetery told 8News that, “Arlington National Military Cemeteries (ANMC) is actively complying with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requirements prior to any determination being made as to a final disposition of the monument, including the possibility of transfer to a third party such as Virginia Military Institute. Army compliance with these laws is ongoing and involves public and stakeholder input regarding the outcome.”