“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their own history.” – George Orwell, 1984. Who knew the Biden administration was using this dystopian novel as a guidebook?

In 2022, the Commission on the Naming of Items of the Department of Defense that Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily with the Confederate States of America, more commonly referred to as the “Naming Commission” with its two-million-dollar taxpayer funded budget, set its sights on the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Despite the Naming Commission headed by an African-American naval officer, Michelle Howard, the cemetery overseen by the U.S. Army fell into her crosshairs.

While the United States military could have taken the commission’s comments into consideration and simply focused elsewhere, such as on declining recruitment, they decided to forge ahead with obliviating history. African-American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared in a memo that he concurred with all the commission’s recommendations and was committed to implementing them as soon as possible, within legal constraints. On 5 January 2023, William A. LaPlante, U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment directed the Department to implement all of the commission’s recommendations. This did not need to be done, but the U.S. military showed its commitment to an agenda of ruin and destruction. What has replaced these historic, artistic monuments? The Confederate monuments of Richmond, Virginia have been replaced by homeless encampments and plein air fentanyl deals on Monument Avenue. As Orwell asked, what kind of regime needs a pyramid of stacked bodies to sustain itself?

The Arlington National Cemetery “ANC” is currently in the midst of its fifty-acre Southern Expansion Project. ANC will run out of space for new internment without changes to eligibility by 2041 and, with the Southern Expansion Project, by 2060. According to ANC, “the Defense Access Roads “DAR” Project began construction in September 2021 and is scheduled to be complete in June 2025. The DAR Project will realign Columbia Pike, modify the S. Joyce Street intersection and the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard (Route 27) interchange, and replace Southgate Road with a new segment of S. Nash Street.” This schedule appears to be completely missed by the current construction. There are no updates posted by project manager Nirmaldas Patel on the construction, nor detours, nor anything that would indicate this project is on track.[1] The end date of the construction is uncertain, simply stating “Summer 2025”. As visitors to ANC can attest, grave sites are poorly maintained and eroded. Banks of graves show signs of erosion. Despite the apparent budget concerns over the Southern Expansion Project and other projects, ANC decided to spend its time and energy on dismantling a Confederate memorial.

When comparing cost of Confederate memorial destruction, relying on dollars and cents is done although the damage to morale and American history is incalculable. In Richmond, Virginia, removal of the A. P. Hill monument cost the taxpayer $900,000.00. In that case, the City of Richmond under African-American Mayor Stoney flew to the courts to receive a go-ahead to disturb the grave of Civil War veteran A. P. Hill from his resting place. We can assume the cost of the ANC Confederate Memorial statue will be the same because the ANC shows no sign of not following the Bolshevik playbook (remember the Romanovs?) presented by the City of Richmond.

Like the A. P. Hill monument, the Confederate Memorial is connected to Confederate graves. Confederate military personnel were among those initially buried at Arlington. Some were prisoners of war who died while in custody or who were executed as spies by the Union, but some were battlefield dead. In 1865, Union General Meigs decided to build a monument to Civil War dead in a grove of trees near the flower garden south of the Robert E. Lee mansion at Arlington. One has to remember that the ANC is built on Lee family land seized by the federal government. The bodies of more than two thousand Union and Confederate dead within a 35-mile radius of the city of Washington, D.C., were collected. Some of the dead had been interred on the battlefield, but most were full or partial remains discovered unburied where they died in combat. None were identifiable. Although Meigs had not intended to collect the remains of Confederate war dead, so intent he was on letting their graves be unmarked forever, the inability to identify remains meant that both Union and Confederate dead were interred below the cenotaph built. The vault was sealed in September 1866. Other Confederate battlefield dead were also buried at Arlington, and by the end of the war in April 1865 several hundred of the more than 16,000 graves at Arlington contained Confederate dead.[2] The number is not known and estimated to be as high as five hundred individuals, and so by disturbing the ground of the Confederate Memorial, grave disturbance will occur.[3]

According to the Code of Virginia 18.2 – 126, if a person unlawfully disturbs or disinters a human body which has been placed in a vault or grave, he or she is guilty of a class 4 felony. Virginia class 4 felonies can carry fines over one hundred thousand dollars and imprisonment, but courts often order higher amounts if there is evidence of malice or wanton disregard. In this case, history of Confederate burials at ANC has been known for decades and was published in various national newspapers in 1906 and 1914.[4] Confederate graves at our national cemetery has been the subject of United Daughters of the Confederacy meetings.[5] There is no way the death and destruction committee, or whatever their politically correct name is, doesn’t know that they will be disturbing the dead with their equipment.

Recently, the ANC opened a comment period on destruction of the Confederate Memorial. This comment period comes in the wake of a petition started by Christina Bell, which can be signed here ( Petition · Defend Arlington Cemetery Confederate Monument · Change.org ). I encourage readers of Abbeville Institute to copy and paste all, or part of this article, or write in your own comment to the ANC here before 2 September 2023: Public Comment Form – Arlington National Cemetery: Confederate Memorial Removal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (anmc-confederatememorialpubliccomments.com)


[1] See Southern Expansion (arlingtoncemetery.mil) ; Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (DAR) Project | FHWA (dot.gov) ; Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads (DAR) Project | FHWA (archive.ph)

[2] See freedmenscemetery.org/resources/documents/arlington-section27.pdf ; Cultural Landscape Program. Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial Cultural Landscape Report. National Capital Region. National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Washington, D.C.: 2001. Accessed April 29, 2012. .

[3] Confederate Memorial (Arlington National Cemetery) – Wikipedia (archive.ph)

[4] Confederate Statue Here.” The Washington Post. January 11, 1914. ; “Tribute to Confederate Dead.” The Washington Post. June 4, 1905.

[5] United Daughters of the Confederacy, Minutes of the Twentieth Annual Convention…, p. 340. Accessed October 30, 2013.


Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed at the Abbeville Institute website do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

Sara Sass

Sara Sass is an attorney in Virginia.

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