INDIANAPOLIS — Here inside the coronary heart of Mike Pence’s city, in a surprising city area referred to as Monument Circle, a girl is trampling at the Confederate war flag. Outrage is absent. It’s an incredible sight for an Alabamian and lifelong Southerner, even for folks who keep in mind that awful time in our beyond, not anything brief of treason. With few exceptions, our Civil War shrines are carved heroes of Lost Cause lore — Lee and Jackson and Davis and anonymous Johnny Rebs, just like the sentinel who has long guarded Jacksonville’s square — that had been erected as shrines to the racially “redeemed” Southern states.
Never overlook that Jacksonville’s statue features a Jefferson Davis quotation, “Be it ours to transmit to posterity our unequivocal self-assurance in the righteousness of the purpose for which those men died.” Indiana is a great country that drips Midwestern blandness; it’s Alabama without accents, hills, or kudzu. And the Soldiers & Sailors Monument that centers Indianapolis’ Monument Circle can be the nation’s unrivaled enchantment. The speedway out on Indy’s western rim desires it to become this impressive.
Designed by a German architect and completed in 1902, the Soldiers & Sailors Monument today is Indiana’s legitimate memorial to its battle veterans through the early twentieth century. However, it wasn’t constructed for that Cause. It was, and still is, a sobering birthday party of America’s victory in what the monument calls the “War For The Union.” The frequently-riled United Daughters of the Confederacy will frown when they hear that.
The monument stands 284 ft, 16 inches excessive. Reaching the pinnacle requires climbing 330 steps or, if you’re wimpish or infirm, taking the most effective elevator, which works on occasion. (Birmingham’s Vulcan statue and base is 179 feet excessive.) Lady Victory rises in bronze from the pinnacle. Sculptures on the monument’s four facets are themed — “War,” “Peace,” “The Dying Soldier,” and “The Homefront” — with depictions of battles, suffering, gallantry, and defeat.
Then, the flag.
In “War,” a goddess stands between infantrymen at some stage. Her right arm is skyward. Her hand includes a torch. Underneath her feet is a fallen Confederate war flag, a lifeless soldier draping it.
Then, the formerly enslaved person.
On “Peace,” any other goddess holds a U.S. Flag. To her left sits a former slave — a black guy, shirtless, shoeless, his damaged chains growing in his proper hand. There can be few places that better illustrate the chasm-like divide among defenders of Lost Cause ideology and the ancient accuracy of, as the UDC adamantly prefers, we name it, the War Between The States.
America’s unreconstructed Confederates are below siege; that’s altogether fitting given the inhumanity of celebrating such a mistaken motive. Their heroes’ statues are coming down. Their flag is poisonous. Former Gov. Robert Bentley eliminated it from the Alabama Capitol grounds. There’s a motion in Mississippi to remove the Confederate imagery from that kingdom’s flag. Even little-ol’ Anniston has largely banned the Confederate battle flag from town belongings.
At least 114 Confederate monuments, memorials, plaques, and other symbols have been removed from U.S. Public areas on account of 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports. Alabama, although, isn’t playing that game. However, our country’s monument regulation prohibiting such removals is nothing but a legislative middle finger that would make George Wallace proud. And cities that have dismantled Confederate statues are searching for takers — a fake garage sale of oversized Lost Cause imagery. Today, an attorney in Dallas won at the public sale of the metropolis’s bronze likeness of Robert E. Lee; he paid over $1.Four million for it. Confederate statues are in storage in Memphis, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Chapel Hill, N.C. Vandalism is a crime, but that hasn’t stopped the spray-portray of Confederate monuments in more than a dozen towns to this point in 2019. Last week in Nashville, someone painted words on a Confederate memorial.
The paint turned purple.
So became the message: “They had been racists.” As Southerners, we’re now not familiar with this emblem of historical honesty. In rawness and intensity, the civil rights statues in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park come near. But both then or now, I can’t imagine a prominent Southern city erecting a show as blatantly — no, as gloriously — pro-Union, anti-Lost Cause, and anti-slavery because of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Indiana’s country capital.