Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News----Historians Protest Tradition: President's Memorial Day Wreath on Confederate Memorial In Arlington Cementery

Scholars Ask Obama Not to Send a Wreath to Confederate Memorial Press Release by James Loewen, History News Network, May 20, 2009.

More than four dozen prominent professors, historians and authors have signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to break with a tradition that they say represents the values of white supremacy and neo-Confederacy. The group is asking Mr. Obama to be the first president since Woodrow Wilson not to send a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington DC on Memorial Day.

Co-signers of the letter include: James Loewen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Vermont; Paul Finkelman, William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law, Albany Law School; James McPherson, Professor of History, Princeton University; William Lee Miller, Scholar in Ethics and Institutions at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia; and many others.

The letter, written by Edward Sebesta, editor of "Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction," University of Texas Press, and James Loewen details the history of the monument and the way that racist and neo-Confederate groups have used the monument to glorify the Confederacy and racist values.

The monument was given to the Federal Government by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and in 1914, and was, Sebesta writes, "intended to legitimize secession and the principles of the Confederacy and glorify the Confederacy." Prior to the administration of George H. W. Bush, the commemorative wreath was presented on or near the birthday of Jefferson Davis. The occasion has been marked on Memorial Day since the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

"It isn’t just a remembrance of the dead," Sebesta continues. "The speeches at its ground-breaking and dedication defended and held up as glorious the Confederacy and the ideas behind it and stated that the monument was to these ideals as well as the dead. It was also intended as a symbol of white nationalism, portrayed in opposition to the multiracial democracy of Reconstruction, and a celebration of the re-establishment of white supremacy in the former slave states by former Confederate soldiers. In its design it also tells wrong history, boasting fourteen shields with the coat of arms of fourteen states. Thus it claims that Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland were part of the Confederacy. They weren’t."

Text Source: History News Network Tuesday,May 19, 2009

Read the Letter.

Image Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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