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Ben Cline votes to return Confederate memorial to Arlington Cemetery

Gene Zitver
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(© lev radin – Shutterstock)

Sixth District Congressman Ben Cline joined the overwhelming majority of House Republicans to vote to reinstall a Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The vote Thursday was on an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that’s seen as a must-pass piece of legislation. It would have required the secretary of the Army to reinstall the memorial in its original location in the nation’s most celebrated military veteran graveyard and not designate it as anything other than a “reconciliation” memorial or monument.

The amendment, though, failed to get a majority, as Democrats voted unanimously against it and were joined by 24 GOP House members. But 192 Republicans, or about 87% of the party in the House, voted in favor…

defense policy bill that passed over then-President Donald Trump’s veto in the waning days of his administration required the monument’s removal.

The art piece was unveiled in 1914 and sculpted by a Confederate veteran, Moses Jacob Ezekiel. Made of bronze and resting on a 32-foot granite pedestal, it featured a woman symbolizing the South holding a laurel wreath, a plow handle and a pruning hook, a reference to the biblical promise of a time when swords would be turned into plowshares.

Below her was a frieze of 32 figures, which “depict mythical gods alongside Southern soldiers and civilians,” according to the cemetery’s website. Among those figures are a Confederate soldier handing off his infant to an enslaved African American woman for caretaking and an enslaved man in uniform following his owner into battle.

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries asked: “What Confederate tradition are you upholding? Is it slavery? Rape? Kidnap? Jim Crow? Lynching? Racial oppression? Or all of the above? What exactly is the Confederate tradition that extreme [Make America Great Again] Republicans in 2024 are upholding?”

In the debate on the amendment, Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.) said the memorial’s dedication in 1914, well after the Civil War and Reconstruction, and its subject matter show it was not meant to be unifying.

“When this monument was placed, the gentleman said it was for reconciliation, but for who? Not for the Black Americans who saw that monument then, and even today, and see the images of a mammy and a loyal slave following his master into battle. They know what that means,” she said.

Ironically the vote came on Flag Day, which Congressman Cline recognized with a post on his Facebook page.

Among those who served under that banner are the forces who defeated the Confederates that the memorial mythologizes.

Instead of honoring those who seceded from and fought against the union represented by that flag, Cline should pay tribute to some of the true heroes: the people of the Shenandoah Valley who dared to oppose and resist the Confederacy.

Gene Zitver is the editor of ClineWatch.