No decision made in debate over Confederate monument

MADISON (WKOW) -- Several members of the Madison community made it clear they are not in favor of removing the Confederate monument in Forest Hill Cemetery.

The Landmarks Commission met Monday to consider granting the city permission to remove the large marker.

“To disregard history, in a sense, I think is unacceptable,” one woman said. “I would think that the pieces that are there now should stay and should be used as an educational tool.”

One man said taking the stone away will erase the identity of those who fought in the Civil War and are buried at the cemetery.

“Are you really willing and ready to obliterate history, and the history unique to Madison at that, for a reason that could only be described as, 'Well, we're just not sure if it looks right?'” he said.

Another man questioned the purpose of removing the marker.

“Is it an objection to the war that those brave soldiers fought? They fought for a cause,” he said.

And another man said the stone is as much a celebration of Alice Whiting Waterman, who cared for the graves and was later buried in Confederate Rest in 1897.

Commission Chairman Stuart Levitan, once in favor of keeping the marker, said he changed his mind after hearing the Common Council debate.

“I now understand why its mere presence, why its presence of such a large piece of marble commemorating the death of Confederate soldiers is inherently offensive,” Levitan said.

A compromise to remove the marker and replace it with an interpretive sign died without a second motion.

The Common Council voted in April to remove the large monument. But because the cemetery is a designated landmark, the Landmarks Commission must give its approval before any major changes are made at the cemetery. The approval is called a certificate of appropriateness.

Mayor Paul Soglin had a small plaque honoring the Confederate soldiers removed from the cemetery about a year ago. The Landmarks Commission approved a certificate of appropriateness for the small plaque on Monday.

The Landmarks Commission will take up the issue again at its August 27th meeting.

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