Not that long ago the residents of the city of Savannah voted to maintain their Confederate monument in Forsyth Park without any changes, but yesterday Savannah’s city council voted to adopt changes recommended by its Confederate Memorial Task Force.
Here are the recommendations:
- Rename it from ‘Confederate Monument’ to ‘Civil War Memorial.’ This “returns to the original intent” of it being a memorial. It also includes all of Savannah’s fallen in the Civil War.
- Preserve all historical material on the memorial, including the Confederate soldier on top. The Task Force believes this statue represented the “everyman.” They also do not recommend removing historical material, as is a tradition of the city.
- Install a new bronze plaque on the south side of the memorial, dedicated to “all the dead of the American Civil War.” The former memorial was dedicated to the Confederate dead in 1875.
- Keep the vertical panel on the south side of the memorial blank so “future generations could add to the monument as they see fit.”
- Relocated Bartow and McLaws monuments to Laurel Grove North Cemetery where both are buried. The Task Force says these were added years after the memorial was erected and are “distractions from the original.”
- Once relocated, do not replace the Bartow and McLaws monuments at the memorial site.
- Preserve the fence around the memorial in its current form
- Expand the story of the Civil War, both its causes and effects, throughout Savannah outside of the memorial at Forsyth Park.
This is a very interesting development that speaks to the possibility of transforming the meaning of a community’s monument and the landscape on which it is located. It may prove to be a helpful model for other city’s to consider short of removal. The media has tended to focus on those city’s that have removed their monuments, but the vast majority of Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers will remain in place.
Attention will now turn to the question of whether the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge should be changed. Finally, here is a piece I recently wrote about another controversial site in Savannah located in a neighborhood where few tourists visit.