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Confederate memorial in Capitol Hill cemetery targeted

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As the Charleston shootings have renewed and strengthened calls to eliminate the Confederate flag as a symbol of government in the southern United States, a Capitol Hill memorial to the soldiers of the Confederacy here in the Pacific Northwest has again been targeted.

Monday morning workers at 15th Ave E’s Lake View Cemetery were painstakingly scrubbing the porous granite of the United Confederate Veterans Memorial to remove a spray painted message against “white supremacy.”

The 89-year-old memorial hewn from a “10-ton” block of “Stone Mountain, Georgia” rock was created by the Seattle chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy reportedly with money raised at “Dixie Day” during the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. Rather than some kind of early 20th Century historical revisionists, the group included the actual daughters and wives of Confederate soldiers living in Seattle.

The memorial has been targeted before in a much more damaging fashion. In 2005, parts of the bronze work including an insignia, cross of honor, crossed bayonets, and a bronze plaque of Robert E. Lee’s head were stripped and stolen but have since been restored. The memorial was included in this recent Crosscut article — Confederate symbols also blight the Northwest.

Just north of Lake View, the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 200 Union Army veterans and wives.

A worker at Lake View Monday morning said that power washing and more gentle scrubbing was making slow progress in removing the spray paint. Seattle Police did not have any additional information about the crime. Lake View’s sprawling campus includes more than 40,000 grave sites and memorials.

Tuesday night, the NAACP and the United Black Christian Clergy are planning a “March and Rally in Solidarity With the Charleston 9” starting at 6 PM at 14th Ave’s First AME Church. In June, the church hosted a memorial for the nine people killed by a suspected white supremacist in Charleston.

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42 thoughts on “Confederate memorial in Capitol Hill cemetery targeted

  1. Some years back I visited Normandy in France and spent time at the US cemetery there. It was a sacred experience. Nearby is the La Cambe cemetery, where 12,000 German soldiers are entombed. It was actually started by US authorities. This was also a solemn place.

    These men died for their country. They were the sons of parents, and yes indeed they fought on the wrong side; a side whose values were despicable and who if prevailed, could have meant that I personally would not be alive to write this note.

    That pea brains in Seattle would desecrate the remains of men who fought for the confederacy and who then went on to be pioneers in our city is shameful. Let them rest in peace. And props to the Lakeview crew who are cleaning up the mess.

  2. “That pea brains in Seattle would desecrate the remains of men who fought for the confederacy and who then went on to be pioneers in our city is shameful.”

    Or to put it another way, they are the remains of men who committed an act of treason against their own country and murdered fellow Americans to keep slavery in place and to enrich plantation owners.

    So while it may be shameful to desecrate these remains, it’s pretty shameful that they have a monument in the first place. Simple graves should be sufficient.

    • Racism is learned. And not every soldier has the insight or opportunity to be a conscientious objector or otherwise go awol or join the other side. I’m sure some did. Overall, it’s a tragedy that people died while fighting for racism. But they did die and remembering those soldiers existed is not the same as white supremacy. It’s part of history. As is the fact that the monument was built. Is it a Confederate flag flying on a city building in Seattle? Nope. Rather it represents loss and death and the horrors of war and racism, all of which still exist today. Fight white supremacy in another way. Every day. And get anger out in other ways.

    • Nice to see you decide what is treason. Edward Snowden is a hero to me and many, and a man committing treason to others. I fail to see the distinction between a war in the US as somehow more or less legit than the war in Vietnam. My point remains that the foot-soldiers who fought did so because they were required to. This is a memorial, not a monument. By it’s presence, nobody can reasonably construe that it condones the cause of the war to the South, any more than a German cemetery condones the cause of the 3rd Reich. This was gratuitous destruction and desecration of dead men, not of the South or slavery.

      • Er, attacking your own country is kind of the textbook definition of treason. That isn’t even really a controversial statement by anyone outside of Fox News viewers. And it isn’t even remotely like Snowden, unless he was secretly trying to protect the slave industry.

        And seriously, the Vietnam comparison still makes exactly zero sense; the soldiers in Vietnam weren’t committing treason when they fired on the Vietcong.

        However, you’re correct, it’s a memorial. And there’s nothing wrong with confederate soldiers being buried in the cemetery. And it’s not even particularly cool that people defaced it; instead, they probably should’ve asked for it to be removed because it’s terrible and promoting racism.

        The intent of the Daughters of the Confederacy–who erected the memorial–was, as Wikipedia puts it “to promote the Lost Cause image of the antebellum plantation South as an idealized society crushed by the forces of Yankee modernization.” That’s historical revisionism, and an attempt to whitewash (no pun intended) a terrible, unambiguous part of history. If the memorial said, “Yeah, we were dicks. Sorry,” no one would really have issues. Seriously, read the declarations of the southern states.

        http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html

        That’s some nasty shit.

        And unless there are memorials in Germany about how awesome and misunderstood the Nazis were, using the swastika on belt buckles and saying it’s about heritage, we’re not really on the same page. Germans aren’t that gullible. Unfortunately, some Americans are.

  3. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

  4. The Confederate flag should only fly on Civil War battlefields.
    As for these giant CSA monuments in graveyards go, the grave marker itself is a monument, and should be sufficient.

    Yes, we have Stalin in Freemont, but it’s a joke. No one respect it because it’s Stalin.

    Look, the CSA surrendered and the Union winners now get to dictate flags and monuments. CSA is NOT of the United States.
    The CSA is all about losing a war and not much else. Someone should carve into that memorial how the CSA surrendered and lost like little girls. (Sorry little girls, but it’s the truth.)

    I’m as white as Bob Hope and I don’t want to see this CSA crap.

  5. Read the sign that was defaced! It says “In Memory of United Confederate Veterans”, then goes on to state who put it up. It is not a monument to the war or the cause. Just to the fallen.

    We lost the Viet Nam War. How would we feel if someone from the winning side trashed the Viet Nam War Memorial in DC, or the graves at Arlington or anywhere else of veterans of that poorly conceived and fought war? Makes one sick to think of it.

    How is that any different than tagging this memorial?

    • Your Vietnam example would be more appropriate if Vietnam were part of the US, and we were killing Americans who were committing treason against the US to protect slavery. Now I’m not historian, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t how that particular war went.

      So to answer your question, it wouldn’t even be remotely similar to defacing Arlington or the Vietnam memorial. Now if Vietnam conquered and occupied the US, maybe your false equivalency would be less false.

    • Pea brain describes them clearly, as well as entirely unoriginal and derivative. This cemetery has quietly been in place for about 90 years.

      But it takes a tragic murder in South Carolina to allow these misguided people to have the original idea that there is somehow something wrong with this. Reminds of of the elephant saviors who all of a sudden crawl out of the woodwork en mass and create a challenge for the zoo (they are right on that one, but rather late on the matter), or those who suddenly decide that porpoises at Sea World are mistreated.

      Next time you have a rant about something, come up with it on your own.

  6. I myself wouldn’t be one to be desecrating a grave site, but I can’t say I’m too upset about this happening. Even though it’s rude.

  7. … And how many of you defending the monument and rebuking the perpetrators descended from slaves? All of you? Ok.

    • You don’t have to be descended from slaves to find monuments to Confederate soldiers offensive; those only requires you to be an American.

    • I am Jewish. Therefore I should be outraged by any memorial to fallen German soldiers and nobody but Jews and Russians should have any say in the matter, as they suffered the greatest losses at the hands of the Nazis.

      Descendents of slaves do not have the first or last word on this. Do you really believe that one must belong to a particular group to have a valid and defensible belief, or that one must genuflect to someone else because of their color.

      By the way, I get and celebrate the young woman who climbed up and removed the confederate flag. I wish her well in court and her name will be revered in history I hope. There is no equivalency between this quiet memorial to a few veterans and the symbolism of that flag.

      • “There is no equivalency between this quiet memorial to a few veterans and the symbolism of that flag.”

        The memorial here has the confederate flag, so whatever symbolism it has in South Carolina is mirrored on this memorial. And the young woman you admire tore down the flag from a confederate monument, so it seems sorta weird to support her vandalism while condemning this one.

  8. is there another country that celebrates and embraces a failed treason?

    I agree this shouldn’t be defaced. It should be removed.

      • Nice strawman. No one’s proposing removing every grave.

        As for memorials, how about they get removed unless they have the words “treason” or “slavery?” They could say things like, “These brave soldiers fought to destroy the United States of America and preserve the southern slave trade for rich plantation owners. They were the Fox News viewers of their day, kept ignorant by those who profited from that ignorance.”

        Boom, everyone is happy.

      • @hmm: Your comments lead me to believe that you are glad this memorial was defaced, but are unwilling to admit it.

        I’m with Lowell. Simply put, this act of vandalism was a desecration of a gravesite. There are other, more appropriate ways to protest racism.

      • I’m not really for vandalism, per se, though we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if it weren’t for this act. There generally aren’t this many comments in any article about “Black Lives Matter” protests, for example. Unless it’s people complaining about “thugs.”

      • idin’it ironic
        ..that Mr. U.S. Grant’s [alleged slave owner] memorial tomb is in Harlem.
        .. that many pc Seattle residents would feel right at home there, yes safe there..
        .. that is as long as they aren’t sporting a blue uniform. idin’it ironic

  9. I’m shocked we even have such a nauseating memorial to the confederacy in Seattle. We should have it removed. End of discussion. Those people, even if fighting for the confederacy “under duress” were supporting an ideal that is disgusting and repugnant to any empathetic human being today. I’m not in favor of defacing something but I actually agree with the sentiment spray painted on this sad “monument”.

  10. When I was a punk skater back in the 80s, I used to skate in the Volunteer Park Cemetery all the time. It was a black kid that showed me how to sneak in and where some of the better runs were.

    When he was showing me around, he pointed to the Confederate Memorial and said, “If you gotta take a piss, go piss on that. That’s what I do.”

      • No, I’m still the guy that thought that was the appropriate response to a bunch of violent traitors.

        What’s your excuse, Jeff Davis got your spine?

  11. Defacing something just ‘cos it’s wrong in your eyes doesn’t make it right. I don’t care much for my neighbour’s constantly screaming baby, but you don’t see me defacing the side of their house with “EFF YOUR SCREAMING BABY.” I just deal with it. Less chance of making my neighbour angry. Having neighbours angry at you is not a good thing.

  12. The only reason this is here is that nobody but a few knew it was here in the first place. Ignorance is no excuse to keep it up. Now that people are aware, obviously it needs to be removed. Memorializing horrible racist assholes for no reason (or for the wrong reasons: hey, they decided slavery was worth killing people over, and went to war over. And lost that battle.) Is not what I want my city known for.