Landmarks Commission votes to keep Confederate monument in Madison cemetery

MADISON (WKOW) -- There are strong signs a Confederate monument in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Madison will remain. 

In August of 2017, Mayor Paul Soglin ordered the removal of Confederate memorials from the cemetery. At the time, a plaque was removed, but a cenotaph still remains. It's a large stone monument erected in the middle of the tombstones of Confederate soldiers that bares their names. 

Monday night, Madison's Landmark Commission met and voted to keep the monument in place. 

"The names that were put in, in 1909, have degraded. You can't read the names and this is the marker that bares the names of the 140 dead and we believe that it's possible to honor the dead without honoring the cause that they died for," said Stu Levitan, the Chairman of the Landmarks Commission. 

A majority of the commission feels the dead should still be respected and remembered, but others say that can happen without the monument. 

The final vote was five to one, with Alder Marsha Rummel  being the lone vote in favor of the cenotaph being removed. 

"The names of the soldiers are still available for their families and the community to see who is there and I don't believe that the monument serves any purpose other than it's a legacy of slavery," Rummel said. 

The commission will give its recommendation to city council to make the final decision. They will also recommend an informative plaque be added to the memorial. The display would explain the history surrounding the Confederate cemetery. 

If the council votes to remove the monument, they will have to go back to the Landmark Commission to get approval to do so. 

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