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Judge Suspends Destruction Of Reconciliation Monument in Arlington National Cemetery

A Trump-nominated federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the Pentagon from dismantling the Reconciliation Monument, also known as the Confederate Memorial, in Arlington National Cemetery.

The monument, which has been standing since 1911, was slated to be removed by Dec. 22 in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021.

Defend Arlington—affiliated with Save Southern Heritage Florida—filed a federal lawsuit last month in the District of Columbia court against the Army for presumably violating regulations by attempting to hasten the removal process beforeagain Jan. 1, 2024.

The suit was dismissed but Defend Arlington then attempted once more and filed another lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia. Their argument included that removing it would desecrate, damage and likely destroy it and impede its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston Jr., granted Defend Arlington’s request due to concerns about possible disturbances at grave sites raised by their lawyer and his own respect for officers of the court’s representations.

Therefore, while its fate remains uncertain, this iconoclastic moment has been restrained until further legal proceedings regarding this historic monument in one of America’s most recognized national cemeteries can take place.

“Should the representations in this case be untrue or exaggerated the Court may take appropriate sanctions,” added Alston.

David McCallister, a spokesman for Save Southern Heritage Florida, has indicated that the case involving the Reconciliation Monument in Virginia is stronger than the one dismissed in D.C. as evidence exists of grave sites being disturbed through removal efforts.

This news brings hope to those who have expressed their opposition to this endeavor, such as Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and 40 other Republicans who sent a letter to Defense Secretary Austin last week requesting he suspend all activities related to its removal until Congress finalizes appropriations for fiscal year 2024.

Clyde stressed that the memorial is exempt from this requirement since it “does not honor nor commemorate the Confederacy” but rather commemorates reconciliation and national unity; furthermore, desecration of grave sites is explicitly prohibited by the Naming Commission’s authority.

Former U.S. Sen Jim Webb (D-Va.) opined in an August Wall Street Journal article that toppling the statue would demonstrate a society “deteriorating” and intent on erasing its past out of “bitterness and misunderstanding.”

The Reconciliation Monument was commissioned by United Daughters of Confederacy in 1910; designed by Jewish former Confederate soldier Moses Jacob Ezekiel; approved by Secretary of War William Taft in 1906; and later unveiled at Section 16 of cemetery by President Woodrow Wilson on June 4, 1914.

A hearing concerning its removal has been scheduled for Wednesday at U.S District Court for Eastern District of Virginia.:

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Joe Messina

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