No other conflict has brought as much bloodshed, trauma, and division to the United States of America than the American Civil War. While other wars that Americans have fought in may have been fought on larger scales, with grander armies and greater resources, none compare to the lasting effects of the Civil War which continue to plague the Nation to this day. Approximately 618,000 Americans lost their lives between the years of 1861 and 1865. States, cities, and families turned on one another in a desperate struggle; a struggle which was to continue to divide the Nation long after the last guns had been fired.
A cessation to the violence which had surrounded the Nation for years did little ...view middle of the document...
From its creation in 1864, Arlington National Cemetery was meant to be a symbol of unity and peace. While this was the symbolism behind its creation, it did mean unity or peace for the families of the Confederate dead.
For many years following the war, the bitter feelings between North and South remained, and although hundreds of Confederate soldiers were buried at Arlington, it was considered a Union cemetery. Family members of Confederate soldiers were denied permission to decorate their loved ones' graves and in extreme cases were even denied entrance to the cemetery (Peters, 1986).
This animosity towards the disgraced South continued until 1900 when the United States Congress authorized that a small section of Arlington National Cemetery was to be set aside for the sole purpose of the burial of the Confederate dead. This decision was the start of a Nation finally beginning to heal the divisions which had lasted for decades.
The creation of the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery was through the funding and persistence of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in 1906, intending to honor the courage and sacrifice of those men who gave all for the Southern cause. President Woodrow Wilson presided over the unveiling of the monument on June 4, 1914, the anniversary of the birthday of the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. The crowd consisted of veterans from both the Federal Army and Confederate Army. Of note, this monument was the first overt acknowledgement by the United States government of the thousands of Confederate Soldiers already buried within Arlington Cemetery at the time.
When the Confederate Monument was unveiled, speakers from the North and the South both took part. General Bennett H. Young, the Commander in Chief of the United Confederate Veterans; General Washington Gardner, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic and Colonel Robert E. Lee, the grandson of General Lee all gave speeches regarding the unveiling and the impact it had on how both sides were healing after being torn apart by war. After the unveiling of the Confederate Monument, veterans of both the Union and Confederacy Armies placed wreaths on the graves of those whom they fought against. This act symbolized the central theme behind the memorial; the reconciliation and healing between the North and the South, which had been a long time coming.
Designed and created by Confederate veteran and renowned architect Sir Moses Ezekiel, the Confederate Monument is rich in symbols. The Confederate Monument stands at an impressive 32-feet in height, topped with a larger-than life figure of a woman, meant to represent the spirit of the South. In her left hand she holds a laurel wreath crown, the ancient symbol for peace. In her right hand she holds a pruning hook on a plow stock, echoing the agricultural heritage of the Southern people. She stands atop four cinerary urns, each engraved with a year. Each year represents the...