Restricted Instead of Removing Confederate Statues, Should We Add to Them?

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Joshism

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I'd have to think on this. I'm all for more being added, but I'm not sure they have to be added to an existing one. Let each one tell it's own story. Let the viewer walk away with their own interpretation.
If you let people interpret for themselves you allow for them to interpret wrong. These statues and monuments are frequently seen by people who are not very discerning about history.
 

huskerblitz

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We are not talking about books on a shelf, we are talking about statues in public spaces. When a statue is placed on public land, the person or entity placing the statue assumes the risk that later generations might not agree with the narrative the statue erectors imposed.
Okay. So? Can I add something to the Washington Memorial or the Statue of Liberty to alter what those suggest? You have no problem with that I would assume, correct?

Statues and other monuments have been moved without being destroyed many times. Often they are moved to facilitate traffic flow or for other prosaic reasons. Is that censorship?
@Andersonh1 caught this too. You're trying to dictate the focus here. There is a huge difference in the reasoning, as you well know. Trying to frame the discussion this way goes no where.

If you let people interpret for themselves you allow for them to interpret wrong. These statues and monuments are frequently seen by people who are not very discerning about history.
So the other option is to then force a particular narrative on the public? Isn't that what most of the crying is about? You're simply changing the narrative, not fixing it. I also have more faith in the public than most I guess. But nonetheless, let me decide. Why exactly should you or anyone else be the ones to dictate to me how the narrative speaks to me?
 
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Cavalry Charger

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If you let people interpret for themselves you allow for them to interpret wrong. These statues and monuments are frequently seen by people who are not very discerning about history.
Hence, my suggestion earlier for 'guided' interpretations. Give a full account of history, what people thought was at stake...this is where I think we stumble. It has to be interpreted on what people 'understood' at the time, not on what we understand now. Not everyone was in the same place in terms of their thinking, which doesn't mean they weren't mistaken by standards today. That is what history teaches us, and why historical monuments are so valuable.
 
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Joshism

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A statue of Lee on a battlefield where he fought is not the same as an identical statue next to a courthouse in a city where he never set foot.

A statue that commends local residents for fighting for a cause in which they believe is not the same as one that gives a Lost Cause inscription about States Rights, didn't want to harm the union, slavery had nothing to do with it, etc.

I don't expect monuments (or historical markers) to conform to a narrative, but I also expect them not to be allowed to peddle lies.
 

18thVirginia

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I've seen the picture you describe turn up a number of times, with the Union officer cropped off of course, and every time either I or someone else will point out that it's actually a picture of the Union Native Guards. I think some people pass it on out of ignorance, while some are probably pushing a fake version of history. There's not always a way to know which is which. I don't know who originally decided to push the fake version, but there are attempts to correct the record among the various Southern heritage groups by those of us who care about the truth.

I can only give you my opinion of them. But I would say that views change over time, and sometimes people were not recognized in the past who should have been. There's no reason not to correct that omission now.
Well, two problems with this. 1) As already pointed out, there's nothing to recognize about the Confederate Native Guards. In fact, they're a group completely out of sync with Louisiana tradition, which was inclusive of black soldiers. You want something to honor the fact that Confederate Louisiana broke with the traditions of the past.

Under Spanish rule, blacks in Louisiana were soldiers, who fought against the Choctaw Indians with the British, against the British and with Spain, and again against the British with Andrew Jackson. There had been black soldiers fighting in Louisiana since 1727. Confederate Louisiana broke with that tradition and was unwilling to tolerate even the tiny group of 800 wealthy, educated New Orleanian creoles of color who either wanted to separate themselves as a caste separate from slaves, or to assuage white fears that these wealthy professionals were disloyal to the Confederacy.

The Confederacy rejected them, first by not giving them arms or uniforms. When they didn't take the hint, the legislature formally rejected them in January, 1862. When these black men were recalled by the Confederate governor (only when the Union Navy was threatening New Orleans), they were given old weapons, assigned an out of the way post to defend, and left behind when Confederate troops retreated. Any attempt to memorialize this group would be simply an affirmation that the white supremacy of the Confederacy was as proper as asserted on the Liberty Place monument

2) The Union 1st Native Guards, in contrast, lived through menial assignments for the first year of service, and then in the tradition of black Louisiana soldiers, fought valiantly at Port Hudson, earning the respect of their white counterparts. To honor them would be to honor a long-standing Louisiana tradition.
 
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Cavalry Charger

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A statue of Lee on a battlefield where he fought is not the same as an identical statue next to a courthouse in a city where he never set foot.

A statue that commends local residents for fighting for a cause in which they believe is not the same as one that gives a Lost Cause inscription about States Rights, didn't want to harm the union, slavery had nothing to do with it, etc.

I don't expect monuments (or historical markers) to conform to a narrative, but I also expect them not to be allowed to peddle lies.
It can all be educational...why were they put there in the first place? Perhaps, we need to go back to the roots...once again it creates a historical, and educational, perspective. Just my thoughts...
 

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Perhaps we should try to level the field a bit. I propose a statue in DC of Michael Jackson.
he symbolizes the true greatness of our empire. No where else in our time or in history has it been possible to be born a poor black kid and grow up to be a rich white woman. Truly an inspiration to the world.
 

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This is from a previous thread:

african-american_civil_war_memorial.jpg

America needs more monuments like this.
Image: African American Civil War Memorial, Washington, DC
Image Source: Wikipedia Commons.


The Civil War Sesquicentennial–the multi-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War–is just about over. There are all ready discussions about commemorating the Reconstruction Era, which followed the war. For example, the National Park Service is considering the development of sites that will memorialize Reconstruction Era events.

But recent controversies over the Confederate Battle Flag suggest that the job of properly commemorating the war in our public and private spaces is not yet done.

I understand how and why the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is such a lightening rod for debate and dispute. But my own concern is not with the presence of the CBF on public or other spaces. I am concerned about the relative absence of memorials, monuments and other objects that reflect the roles and experiences of African Americans during the American Civil War. This is something that we Americans need to talk about, and hopefully, address with collective action.

There are easily hundreds of, if not over a thousand, statues, monuments and other objects that commemorate the Civil War. Overwhelmingly, these objects feature white soldiers, sailors, and civilians. The Civil War era presence of African Americans on the “commemorative landscape,” as many call it, is inadequate, if not woefully so.

This situation is a result of our history. Nine out of ten Civil War era African Americans lived in the Union and Confederate slave states, which were considered “the South.” After the Reconstruction Era, which saw many advances toward racial equality, the South devolved into a state of racial supremacy for whites, and racial subjugation for African Americans. Political, financial, and social conditions inhibited or even prevented African Americans from creating memorials that fairly depicted their wartime experience. The result was a commemorative landscape in which Civil War era black folks were out of sight and out of mind. Someone raised in the South prior to this century could look at the commemorative landscape of the era and easily (and wrongly) conclude that black people were a negligible and inconsequential part of the war.

Things have gotten better. For example, since the 1989 movie Glory, over a dozen or more monuments to black Civil War soldiers have been installed. (A review of monuments to African American Civil War soldiers is here.) But much more needs to be done. In way too many places, children of all backgrounds are growing up in a commemorative environment where the back presence in the Civil War in under-represented, or even unrepresented. We have the power to fix that.

The following are just are a few suggestions for new memorials that depict various aspects of the Civil War history of African Americans. The list is not meant to be comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start. If anyone has their own suggestions to offer, feel free to note them in the comments section below. I hope this becomes part of a conversation about creating a commemorative landscape that fully and truly reflects the richness and diversity of the Civil War experience.

So, here we go:

1) No state is more significant in the history of African American soldiery during Civil War than Louisiana. Louisiana provided more African American soldiers to the Union than any other state. Three of the first five black Union regiments were formed in the state. And finally, Louisiana probably produced the most black army officers of any state. A portion of these soldiers were free black Creoles, while others were former slaves. Many enlisted in the Louisiana Native Guards regiments that were organized in New Orleans.

Blackofficerslng.jpg

Officers of Company C of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard at Fort Macomb, Louisiana, per Wikipedia
Image Source: Harpers Weekly, February 28, 1863, via Wikipedia


Yet, there is no monument or memorial to black soldiers in the city of New Orleans. Per my research, there is only one monument to black soldiers in the entire state — at Donaldsonville, Louisiana (which is between New Orleans and Baton Rouge).

This is an oversight that borders on being shameful. I hate to use such strong language. But it is past due that New Orleans and other places in the state recognize the pivotal role these African American soldiers played during the Civil War.

2) When the Civil War began, president Abraham Lincoln and the US Congress made it clear: the Union had no intent of disturbing the institution of slavery where it stood. Why? At the least, they hoped to maintain the loyalty of the slave states that had not seceded and joined the Confederacy. At best, they hoped that the Confederate states, secure in the promise that slavery was safe, would return to the Union, thereby avoiding a war. (Note that, Lincoln was adamant that slavery would not spread to the western territories – a policy stance that the secessionists found unacceptable.)

But the slaves had their own agenda. They saw the war as an opportunity for freedom. On May 23, 1861 – just weeks after the war began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina – Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory fled bondage and sought asylum at a Union occupied fort outside of Hampton, Virginia, named Fort Monroe.

The fort’s commander, General Benjamin Franklin Butler, had no duty to return the slaves; in fact, by Union policy, he should have returned them to their master. But he reasoned that because the slaves were property being used by Confederate insurrectionists, it was within his rights to confiscate that property and use it for the Union’s purposes. This was the beginning of the Union’s contraband policy.

Union General Benjamin Butler receives runaway slaves Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory at Fort Monroe, Virginia, May 1861
Image Source: From The Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia


The contraband policy, which gave bondsmen asylum from slavery in return for their providing labor to the Union, eventually morphed into the Emancipation Proclamation. But the Proclamation might never have happened if not for the three brave men who took the risk of liberating themselves and seeking aid and comfort with their master’s enemy. We need a monument outside of Fort Monroe, which still stands, to commemorate their actions and those of Gen. Benjamin Butler.

3) In 1865, African American soldiers were the first to enter and liberate the cities of Charleston, South Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia from Confederate rule and slavery. I talk about these two events here and here.

What a truly sublime moment it must have been, for these black soldiers to end the bondage of their brethren, and for the bondsmen to see their own people as their liberators. Charles B. Fox, a major in the 55th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (a black regiment), wrote in his diary that “(t)he glory and the triumph of this hour may be imagined, but can never be described. It was one of those occasions which happen but once in a lifetime, to be lived over in memory for ever.”

us-colored-troops-enter-charleston.jpg

“Marching on!”–The Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Colored Regiment singing John Brown’s March in the streets of Charleston, February 21, 1865
Image Source: Drawing from Harper’s Weekly, March 1865; image is at the Library of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-105560 (w film copy neg.) LC-USZ62-117999 (w film copy neg.)


Those wondrous moments should be set in marble or bronze, in a prominent spot in both of those cities. I don’t know much about the lay of the land in Richmond, but the city’s Monument Avenue, which includes several monuments to Confederate military figures (and one to African American legend Arthur Ashe, who was raised in the city) would be an excellent place to commemorate the liberation of that city by black Union soldiers.

4) Many people, myself included, make the point that African Americans were part of the process for ending slavery during the Civil War. This is not to say that African Americans freed themselves by themselves; the point is that, by their actions, black folks were agents of their own liberation, and should be acknowledged as such.

But that doesn’t mean that all the slaves gained their freedom during the war. In fact, most of people who were enslaved at the start of the war were still enslaved when it ended. They gained their freedom only with the arrival and occupation of the Union army, which had the military power to enforce emancipation upon former slaveholders.

As in the case of Charleston and Richmond above, it must have been an amazing moment, when both enslaved and enslaver were told that now and forever, human bondage is dead. Although the initial euphoria might have been tempered by the fear and uncertainty of the future: the freedmen surely wondered: “now that we are free… now what do we do?”

emancipation-day-florida-2015.jpg

From the 2015 Emancipation Day (May 20) Celebration in Tallahassee: Tallahassee resident Brian Bibeau (center), in a portrayal of Union Brigadier General Edward McCook, reenacts the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation from the front steps of the historic Knott House Museum. He is joined by the Leon Rifles 2nd Florida Volunteer Infantry Regiment Co. D, Captain Chris Ellrich Commanding, and the 2nd Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops Reenactment Unit & Living History Association, led by Sgt. Major (Ret.) Jarvis Rosier.
Image Source: Museum of Florida History, via CapitalSoup.com


No matter what the reaction, the announcement of emancipation in places like Tallahassee, Florida on May, 20, 1865, or in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, was a life changing event that the freedmen probably never forgot. And we shouldn’t forget it either. It would be great to capture their memories in memorials that are placed in the public square.

5) During the Civil War, seven African American sailors won the Medal of Honor. Four of them-William H. Brown, Wilson Brown, James Mifflin, and John Henry Lawson-earned their medals while serving on different ships during the Battle of Mobile Bay, an important Union victory in 1864.

There are very few monuments to Civil War sailors, and I know of only one monument that features a black sailor. (Refer to the image of the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC, at the top of this blog post.) I recommend placing a monument to the four men I mentioned earlier in Mobile, Alabama. Alternatively, a monument can be placed at the site of the Naval Museum in Columbus, GA, to commemorate all the black sailors who won the Medal of Honor during the war.

john_lawson.jpg

John Henry Lawson. Per Wikipedia: “John Lawson (June 16, 1837 – May 3, 1919) was a United States Navy sailor who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the American Civil War.”
Image Source: Library of Congress, Lot 11931, Digital ID: cph 3c18553, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-118553, via Wikipedia Commons


6) Do you know who Abraham Galloway was? Abraham Lincoln did. Galloway was a North Carolina spy and recruiter for the Union army. Per his biography by David Cecelski, Galloway “also stood at the forefront of an African American political movement that flourished in the Union-occupied parts of North Carolina, even leading a historic delegation of black southerners to the White House to meet with President Lincoln and to demand the full rights of citizenship. He later became one of the first black men elected to the North Carolina legislature.”

Galloway is a prominent example of the many black civilian leaders and activists who were agents of freedom and progress during and after the war. Their history deserves commemoration. I recommend a statue of Galloway and the black soldiers he recruited for the Union Army, or perhaps, a statue of Galloway and his delegation in meeting with Abraham Lincoln.

****

Again, this is not meant to be a complete, comprehensive list. But it highlights that there are many places out there which merit our attention as opportunities to memorialize the black experience during the war. Once installed, these monuments will educate, enlighten, and maybe even inspire broader swaths of the American public. I hope that as the Sesquicentennial winds down, and the brouhaha over the Confederate Battle Flag dies down, we can catch our collective breath and get to the unfinished work of creating a commemorative landscape that properly reflects all the people who lived, suffered, fought, and strived during the American Civil War.

- Alan
 
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Andersonh1

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2) The Union 1st Native Guards, in contrast, lived through menial assignments for the first year of service, and then in the tradition of black Louisiana soldiers, fought valiantly at Port Hudson, earning the respect of their white counterparts.
Not exactly true.

https://jubiloemancipationcentury.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/truth-lies-and-a-black-confederate-soldiers-hoax-and-the-true-story-of-the-louisiana-native-guards/

But despite their actions at Port Hudson and elsewhere, the men of the Native Guards still had trouble getting the full support and confidence of the Union military. This was especially so for African American officers. The hostility of white soldiers, combined with difficult field conditions, led to the resignation of almost all the black officers, and the desertion of some enlisted soldiers. The anger and dismay of black officers regarding their poor treatment at the hands of white Union men are reflected in the following letter, dated February 19, 1863. (The letter is in the book from The Black Military Experience, ed. Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland; part of the series Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867.) In the letter, sixteen black officers from the 3rd Louisiana Native Guards tender their resignation to General Nathaniel P. Banks:

General, The following circumstances renders It an Imparitive duty to ourselves, to herewith tender our Ressignations, unconditional and Immediate.

At the time we entered the army It was the expectation of ourselves, and men, that we would be treated as soldiers. we did not expect, or demand to be putt on a Perfect equality In a social point of view, with the whites, But we did most certainly expect the Privileges, and respect due to a soldier who had offered his services and his life to his government, ever ready and willing to share the common dangers of the Battle field.

This we have not received, on the contrary, we have met with scorn and contempt, from both military and civilians. If we are forced to ask for Information, from the generality of white Officers, we Invariably receive abrupt and ungentlemanly answers, when in maney instances, It is there legitimate Business to give the information required. To be Spoken to, by a colord Officer, to most of them, seems an Insult. Even our own Regimental commander has abused us, under cover of his authority. Presuming up on our limited Knoledge of military Discipline, all combine to make our Position Insupportable.

General, This treatment has sunk deep Into our hearts. we did not expect It and therefore It is Intolerable. we cannot serve a country in which we have no more rights and Priviledges given to us.

Therefore we most Respectfully beg of you, to accept This Tender. We have the honor, Sir, to be most Respectfully your obedient servants.

{16 signatures: seven captains, three first lieutenants, and six second lieutenants}


-----------------------------------

The war and its aftermath provided the men of Louisiana’s Native Guards with the opportunity to earn the right to be treated as equals in a free society. However, at every turn their attempt to achieve equality was rebuffed. The Confederate authorities used them to counter northern propaganda, but never intended to let them fight. The Union Army let them fight, but made them dig ditches when their capacity for fighting became evident. During reconstruction, whites accepted them for their labor, but repudiated their quest for equal rights. Pawns of three governments, the men of the Native Guards worked hard and did their duty, but as one of their officers wrote to his mother from Port Hudson in April 1864, “Nobody really desires our success, and it’s uphill work.”
 
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Pat Young

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Okay. So? Can I add something to...the Statue of Liberty to alter what those suggest? You have no problem with that I would assume, correct?
That is a great prompt. Thank you for asking.

The Statue of Liberty was altered by the addition of a plaque. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. The Statue was not initially associated with immigration. In 1903 the plaque bearing part of the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus was affixed to the inner wall of the pedestal. It is a small plaque compared to the giant statue, but today it is inextricably tied to Lady Liberty. In fact, because of the poem, New Yorkers associate the statue with immigration to an extent not likely in the minds of its original creators.

emma.JPG


Here is the full poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

@Bee knows this poem from her days in NYC.
 
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Not exactly true.

https://jubiloemancipationcentury.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/truth-lies-and-a-black-confederate-soldiers-hoax-and-the-true-story-of-the-louisiana-native-guards/

But despite their actions at Port Hudson and elsewhere, the men of the Native Guards still had trouble getting the full support and confidence of the Union military. This was especially so for African American officers. The hostility of white soldiers, combined with difficult field conditions, led to the resignation of almost all the black officers, and the desertion of some enlisted soldiers. The anger and dismay of black officers regarding their poor treatment at the hands of white Union men are reflected in the following letter, dated February 19, 1863. (The letter is in the book from The Black Military Experience, ed. Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland; part of the series Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867.) In the letter, sixteen black officers from the 3rd Louisiana Native Guards tender their resignation to General Nathaniel P. Banks:

General, The following circumstances renders It an Imparitive duty to ourselves, to herewith tender our Ressignations, unconditional and Immediate.

At the time we entered the army It was the expectation of ourselves, and men, that we would be treated as soldiers. we did not expect, or demand to be putt on a Perfect equality In a social point of view, with the whites, But we did most certainly expect the Privileges, and respect due to a soldier who had offered his services and his life to his government, ever ready and willing to share the common dangers of the Battle field.

This we have not received, on the contrary, we have met with scorn and contempt, from both military and civilians. If we are forced to ask for Information, from the generality of white Officers, we Invariably receive abrupt and ungentlemanly answers, when in maney instances, It is there legitimate Business to give the information required. To be Spoken to, by a colord Officer, to most of them, seems an Insult. Even our own Regimental commander has abused us, under cover of his authority. Presuming up on our limited Knoledge of military Discipline, all combine to make our Position Insupportable.

General, This treatment has sunk deep Into our hearts. we did not expect It and therefore It is Intolerable. we cannot serve a country in which we have no more rights and Priviledges given to us.

Therefore we most Respectfully beg of you, to accept This Tender. We have the honor, Sir, to be most Respectfully your obedient servants.

{16 signatures: seven captains, three first lieutenants, and six second lieutenants}


-----------------------------------

The war and its aftermath provided the men of Louisiana’s Native Guards with the opportunity to earn the right to be treated as equals in a free society. However, at every turn their attempt to achieve equality was rebuffed. The Confederate authorities used them to counter northern propaganda, but never intended to let them fight. The Union Army let them fight, but made them dig ditches when their capacity for fighting became evident. During reconstruction, whites accepted them for their labor, but repudiated their quest for equal rights. Pawns of three governments, the men of the Native Guards worked hard and did their duty, but as one of their officers wrote to his mother from Port Hudson in April 1864, “Nobody really desires our success, and it’s uphill work.”
Interesting read Anderson, as always.
 

Scotsman

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The US is underpopulated???

The problem with add-ons instead of new stand-alones is the same as taking an author's work and merely changing the ending and publishing it. Write your own **** story and allow me to take away what I want to take away from the piece of art (which they basically are). I don't need someone else dictating their narrative to me. Nor do other Americans. We are perfectly capable on our own. People on this site gripe all the time about biased history. All this would do flip one biased point of view to another biased point of view. Of course I get that for some it's the point of view they want to ram down other's throat. So add their own at a respectful distance and tell both stories.
With public memorials and statues--ie. those commemorative displays on public property--the public IS the author. If the public wishes to change or take away memorial art work on public property, they can do so without violating anyone else's intellectual property rights (as would be the case in your "author's work" analogy).

With public memorials, the local community continuously writes, edits, and adds to the memory of their home. The whole thing is their "**** story."
 

Joshism

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The full and complicated history of the LA Native Guards seems exactly the sort of thing to put on a monument. They came from a community unusual in the South, we're rebuffed by the Confederates, and so enlisted and fought bravely for the Union yet were still not treated as equals.
 
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huskerblitz

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With public memorials and statues--ie. those commemorative displays on public property--the public IS the author. If the public wishes to change or take away memorial art work on public property, they can do so without violating anyone else's intellectual property rights (as would be the case in your "author's work" analogy).

With public memorials, the local community continuously writes, edits, and adds to the memory of their home. The whole thing is their "**** story."
So allow me to come to my own conclusions.

@Pat Young Not surprising you tied in another immigrant thing in. But odd thing, I see a picture or when I visited the site, immigration wasn't the first thing that popped in my head. Perhaps that's the benefit of not being a New Yorker.
 

Pat Young

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@Pat Young Not surprising you tied in another immigrant thing in. But odd thing, I see a picture or when I visited the site, immigration wasn't the first thing that popped in my head. Perhaps that's the benefit of not being a New Yorker.
You brought up the Statue, not I. Certainly in the place where Lady Liberty is sited, Emma's poem is well known even if it is not so where you dwell.
 
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