Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to be removed despite GOP opposition

Despite efforts from a group of Republican lawmakers, a Confederate statue in the Arlington National Cemetery will be removed in the coming days.

The Reconciliation Monument, known as the Confederate Statue, is part of the push to remove military installations named after the Confederacy in the wake of the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

According to a press release from the national cemetery, the statue will be removed from the cemetery by Dec. 22.

The move to remove the statue is in compliance with the Congressional mandate to remove all Confederate memorials by Jan. 1, 2024. 

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The Congressional mandate, passed in 2020, declared that the Department of Defense must remove all “names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America” by Jan. 1, 2024.

An Arlington National Cemetery spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that safety fencing has been installed around the Confederate Memorial as preparation begins to deconstruct the memorial, which was erected in 1914.

While the work occurs, the surrounding landscape, graves, and headstones will be protected, the cemetery said.

The deconstruction of the memorial comes after a group of GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., wrote a letter to Secretary Austin and demanded that they keep the Confederate Memorial in place until the end of the fiscal year 2024 appropriations process.

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In a letter to Secretary Austin, Clyde argued that the memorial was dedicated to American unity following the Civil War rather than honoring the Confederacy, and that it would desecrate the graves of Confederate troops buried there. 

“Despite bipartisan support for this monument, the Naming Commission, established by the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, clearly overstepped its legislative authority when it recommended that the Department of the Army remove the Reconciliation Monument from Arlington National Cemetery,” the lawmakers wrote.

“[T]he Reconciliation Monument does not honor nor commemorate the Confederacy; the memorial commemorates reconciliation and national unity.

Clyde, a Navy combat veteran, was joined on the letter by 43 other House Republicans.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin said that he also disagrees with the Biden administration’s decision to remove the statue and the grave of Moses Ezekiel, the renowned sculptor of the memorial. 

“The governor formally asked Secretary Austin to ensure that the grave of Moses Ezekiel and the accompanying memorial atop his grave remain in its revered location at the Arlington National Cemetery,” Gov. Youngkin’s spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“The governor is disappointed that the Biden administration still sought to remove the memorial but believes that the Newmarket battlefield state park in the Shenandoah Valley will provide a fitting backdrop to Ezekiel’s legacy as a legendary sculptor and Virginian even though he disagrees with the Biden administration’s decision to remove it,” Porter said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.

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