Soglin orders removal of Confederate monuments from Forest Hill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Soglin orders removal of Confederate monuments from Forest Hill Cemetery

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Confederate memorial in Forest Hills Cemetery Confederate memorial in Forest Hills Cemetery

MADISON (WKOW) – Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has ordered the removal of Confederate memorials from Forest Hill Cemetery. 

One of the memorials already has been removed, and another will be removed soon, according to the mayor's office.

The removal was announced today in a statement from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

“The removal of city-owned monuments to Confederate soldiers in Forest Hill Cemetery has minimal or no disruption to the cemetery itself,” the statement read.

Soglin called the Civil War an act of insurrection and treason and a defense of the deplorable practice of slavery.

"We should remember the Civil War and how it started and why it was fought, but there can be no justification in honoring that insurrection,"  Soglin said in a phone interview with 27 News from New Mexico.

The removed memorial included language about "...The valiant Confederate soldiers"  and referred to "...resting places for these unsung heroes."

The remaining memorial includes the inscription, "Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of the Confederacy to Mrs. Alice Whiting Waterman and her boys."  Historians say Waterman maintained the cemetery section for the more than one hundred confederate dead, who had been prisoners at Camp Randall in connection with the war, and died in Madison.

Former city council president Chris Schmidt says he agrees with Soglin's action on the removal of the glorifying monument, but reserves his opinion on the larger, remaining one. 

"I have mixed feelings about that,"  Schmidt says.  "This one is a list of the just feels like a fairly traditional cemetery monument, and gives some context to the site."

Schmidt, and city councilpersons Shiva Bidar-Sielaff and Marsha Rummel were instrumental in the removal of a flag pole at the site in 2015, that ended the years-long practice of flying the Confederate flag on certain days at the cemetery section.

Soglin says the second monument will be removed after heavy equipment is secured for the job.

Forest Hill Cemetery is located across from Glenway Golf Course along Speedway Road on Madison's near west side.

More from the statement:

"The monuments in question were connected to that action and we do not need them on city property.

"Taking down monuments will not erase our shared history. The Confederacy’s legacy will be with us, whether we memorialize it in marble or not.

"I agree with other mayors around the country also speaking out and taking action. We are acknowledging there is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. In Madison, we join our brothers and sisters around the country to prove that we, as a people, are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile, and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves.

"There should be no place in our country for bigotry, hatred or violence against those who seek to unite our communities and our country. That is why I instructed Forest Hills Cemetery staff to remove a Confederate’s Rest commemorative memorial. "

There is a larger monument, which has not garnered as much attention, which will also be removed," the statement read.

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