I am just going to cut right to the chase. The city of Taneytown, Maryland is making a huge mistake in considering placing a Civil War memorial designed by Gary Casteel in their community. The design itself is unoriginal and even though it acknowledges African Americans it honors the Confederacy in a way that is reminiscent of a reconciliationist culture popular at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Washington Post rightly points out Casteel’s connection to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and his role in bringing a Confederate flag rally to Gettysburg in 2016. Keep in mind that this was roughly one year after the photographs of Dylann Roof carrying Confederate flags emerged following his killing spree in Charleston, South Carolina.
And why is Casteel allowed to call this a National Civil War Memorial? What exactly gives him or anyone involved with this project the authority to stamp it with such a designation? Answer: Nothing. I can envision a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that was commissioned by the National Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission if such a group had been authorized.
The Taneytown City Council is considering nothing more than a poorly designed memorial.
Even more troubling is the possibility that given the current design Taneytown will become a rallying point for groups promoting white supremacy. Imagine the Virginia Flaggers, various secessionist groups and the Sons of Confederate Veterans gathering around this memorial. They would find plenty in this design that speaks to their values and agenda.
The residents of Taneytown really need to think this through carefully.