Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Confederate War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

I am one of many contributors to the Memorial Day Foundation's War Memorial Registry.  I do have one bone to pick with the organization, however. They do not accept memorials commemorating those who died in the armed services of the Confederate States of America. I found that amazing since Decoration Day, the forerunner to Memorial Day, observed Civil War dead from the Union and Confederacy.

So I am posting one of the photographs I took at Arlington National Cemetery of the Confederate Memorial that was not accepted by the foundation.

Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

There's a lot to the memorial. It was sculpted in the Baroque style by Moses Ezekiel in Rome, Italy. The memorial consists of a bronze statue atop a bronze plinth, which stands on a granite base. The base consists of a rectangular lower base and a taller upper base in the shape of a nearly-square Maltese cross, which together are about 3-feet high. The two elements which makes up the base are of polished Woodstock granite from Maryland, while the plinth above the base is made of bronze. At 32 feet in height, the Confederate Memorial is among the tallest of the memorials and monuments at Arlington National Cemetery.

The topmost portion of the memorial consists of a larger-than-life figure of a woman representing the South. The orientation of the figure and its face is toward the south, in part to honor the Confederacy but also so that the sun may shine on the face and figure at all times (which is symbolic of being favored). The figure's head is crowned with an olive wreath, which is both sacred to Minerva and a symbol of peace. The figure's left hand extends a laurel wreath toward the south in acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the South's men in arms and as a symbol of the past. The figure holds a pruning hook in its right hand, which in turn rests on a plow. This represents peace and reconciliation as well as the hope that the labor of the South will lead to new glory.

The figure stands on a round pedestal decorated with palm branches and four cinerary urns. Low relief numbers on the urns refer to the four years of the Civil War. Beneath the round pedestal is a round plinth in the form of a wreath of wheat. Below the plinth is a round base on which is inscribed: "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks." It is a partial quotation from Isaiah 2:4.

Below the base is a frieze of 14 inwardly inclined shields, each of which depicts the coat of arms of one of the 13 Confederate states and Maryland. Below the frieze is a cylindrical mount on which are 32 life-size figures, each provide additional meaning to the memorial.

The figures stand on an irregular octagonal base. The following inscription is located around the base:

To our dead heroes
the United Daughters of the Confederacy 
Victrix causa diis
Placuit sed victa caton

Not for fame or reward
Not for place or rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Sacrificed all
Dared all -- and died

Randolph Harrison McKim

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