Debate over Confederate Symbols Comes to St. Louis with Vandalism of Memorial in Forest Park

Tim O'Neil, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 2015

More than a century ago, believers in the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy dedicated a granite monument in Forest Park. Over the years, it largely was forgotten.

Back in April, Mayor Francis Slay asked publicly whether it should be removed from the park. Then, some time overnight Tuesday, vandals defaced it with paint, including with the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” City workers cleaned the monument on Wednesday.

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But in Missouri, official displays of the battle flag hadn’t been news in more than a decade. In 2003, former Gov. Bob Holden had the flag removed from two state Civil War historic sites. The next governor, Matt Blunt, drew criticism two years later for allowing one to be flown for a day over the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site at Higginsville, in western Missouri, where the state once had a Confederate veterans’ home.

At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, where 1,104 Confederate soldiers are buried, park officials allow Confederate heritage organizations to place small Confederate battle flags next to the graves only on Memorial Day, according to strict rules. {snip}

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The battle flag still can be seen in Missouri at private homes and on bumper stickers. Every now and then, a school district suspends a student for wearing a Confederate shirt or cap. {snip}

The flag is not displayed at the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park. Members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy paid for the $23,000 monument, which was dedicated on Dec. 5, 1914, while a band played “Dixie.” A Post-Dispatch description of the ceremony says the monument depicts a young man preparing to leave his family to join the Confederate army. Its 32-foot shaft is etched with praise of the Southern cause.

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