Louisville decided to remove a 70-foot statue honoring Confederate dead. Brandenburg, Ky., population 2,000 and more than 90 percent white, obtained and erected it this year. The town held a ceremony in celebration on Memorial Day. Most view the statue as history, art or honoring veterans. My view: The statue is inappropriate, as Kentucky officially declared neutrality during the Civil War (although that neutrality was later violated). Confederates pillaged the area, and there are no statues honoring veterans or those who fought for the Union, or the United States. More appropriate would be a memorial for those who fought for the Union or the United States at any time, or the Underground Railroad.
—Barbara Knupp, 63, Webster, Ky.
In the capitol square of Raleigh, N.C., there are 14 statues and monuments, and five of them commemorate the Confederacy and its leaders: more than a third of them, memorializing only four years of North Carolina’s three-century history. Much like our legislature itself, this is not representative of who we are as a state. They stand in stark contrast to a historical marker a few blocks away, which I feel represents the right way to remember the darker moments of our history. The marker notes the former location of the North Carolina Eugenics Board and explains that “State action led to the sterilization by choice or coercion of over 7,600 people” — an honest, open assessment of our past misdeeds.
—Brendan Dillon, 36, Raleigh, N.C.
The Civil War is still on the minds of many of my fellow citizens, to the point that they often vote against their own best interests. Our Mississippi state flag is the “monument” I would remove, as it contains a Confederate battle flag that was not associated with any historical battles here, but the symbol carries vestiges of racial prejudice that harm our state. Courthouse statues of unknown Confederate soldiers I might leave in place, with an explanation that the war was really about preserving slavery. But for every one of them, erect another to remember civil rights pioneers here who have tried to change things for the better.
—Len Blackwell, 74, Gulfport, Miss.
Create the monument that doesn’t exist: Memorialize the 1811 slave rebellion on the German Coast (near Baton Rouge and New Orleans). I went through 12 years of New Orleans public schools and never heard about it until recently. Want to celebrate history? Start with those slaves’ desperate efforts to be free.
—Alane Dashner, 56, Great Falls, Va.
I’d like to make the case for a statue of a REAL woman in Central Park. Sure, you can find Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland and Juliet with her Romeo, but not one real, historical woman. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, as pioneers of the women’s movement, should have a historical statue placed in Central Park.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund has already secured initial approval. To borrow from Coline Jenkins, an activist and great-great granddaughter of Stanton, it’s time to break through the “bronze patriarchy.”
—Sandra Pimentel, 44, New York
The statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville’s Lee Park is closely tied to my childhood, as we lived near Lee Park and went there often. Lee made the absolute only decision he could make in the context of his time. He faced a no-win situation: Stay with the Union and betray his state, or go with the Confederacy and betray what had always been his country. He made a difficult choice, but at that point Virginians were Virginians first, Americans second. The country was still new, and the state and its native sons had led the way to forming a remarkable nation. I wouldn’t advocate a new monument, but it seems a terrible final blow to Lee, who suffered a great deal, to tear that one down.
—Kathleen Hoffman, 73, Madison, Va.
The Chief Hiawatha statue in La Crosse’s Riverside Park on the Mississippi River, erected in 1961, is the site of Fourth of July fireworks and other tourism gateways (Riverfest, Oktoberfest, sightseeing steamboats). It perpetuates racist stereotypes of Native Americans. In 2000, the city council debated tearing down this embarrassment; instead, $35,000 in city and private funds were allocated to restore Chief Hiawatha to his original “glory.” Time for the chief to be sent to the happy hunting ground. Instead, honor the region’s Native Americans, who gave the world the sport of lacrosse, with an expanded exhibit in La Crosse’s historical museum, right next door.
—Lyon Evans, 70, La Crosse, Wis.
Milwaukee has a statue of Henry Winkler — specifically, Henry Winkler in character as Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli from the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days.” “Happy Days” was set in Milwaukee, of all places, and the city takes great pride in this. The statue was commissioned several years ago and immediately became a sensation for tourists and locals alike. You would be hard-pressed to scroll through the Instagram posts of any Milwaukee millennial and not see a photo of them copying the statue’s iconic pose. I am sure other cities, towns and states have larger or perhaps more elegant statues. However, I cannot think of a landmark that makes me as proud of my native home as our humble Bronze Fonz.
—Ross Bartelt, 26, Milwaukee
Remove the double equestrian statue of Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the eve of the Battle of Chancellorsville, located in a public park in Baltimore. It was dedicated in 1948. Inscriptions attest to the personal qualities of the two men. It should be removed because:
1) It glorifies two men who waged war against the United States.
2) It has limited historical significance. It says nothing about the war they waged. Maryland was not part of the Confederacy, and the event it depicts was in another state. It only commemorates the lingering Southern sympathies in Baltimore in the early 20th century.
3) Baltimore has moved on. Few, if any, residents still share the statue’s sentiment.
—Rollin Olson, 68, Baltimore
I view the removal of Confederate monuments the same way I view the Taliban and the Islamic State destroying ancient statues and ruins. The removal of monuments from a different age because we view things differently today is reprehensible. It is revisionist history — a big lie.
—Jon Farrar, 60, Tyler, Tex.
Drop “Jefferson Davis” from the name of U.S. Route 1 in Alexandria, Va. Time to rename it from honoring the leader of the Confederacy. Instead, call it the Freedom Highway. Anyone going to argue with “freedom”?
—P.A. Brown, 54, Bethesda, Md.
The main city park in Lakeland, Munn Park, has a rebel soldier statue. This monument was erected during the Jim Crow era. Polk County was largely rural at the time of the Civil War and played no significant role.
Polk County demographics are rapidly changing, with immigrants from Puerto Rico joining an already diverse population.
Polk County was third in Florida in the number of lynchings from 1877 to 1950, a fact not commemorated by a statue. Schools were not desegregated until more than a decade after the Brown decision. The rebel statue in Munn Park is a daily reminder of white supremacist attitudes of the past.
—Steve Abney, 64, Winter Haven, Fla.
I don’t see how the monuments to Gens. Philip Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant can remain in Washington, D.C., in our new climate of how to publicly remember history. All three men were a part of the near-genocide of the Great Plains Indians in the post-Civil War era. They violated the Medicine Lodge Treaty, they orchestrated a war of total destruction against Indians who had a legal right to live on the Great Plains, and they do not represent our modern-day values. But then again, D.C. is the same town that tolerates the Washington Redskins franchise name.
—James Whitehead, 46, Warrenton, Va.
The Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville is open for weddings, tours, wine tastings and lawn parties. It is morally repulsive to celebrate the architectural beauty of plantations while ignoring their blood- and soul-soaked soil. I am white, so I feel this moral outrage in an abstract sense. Black Nashvillians experience something very different. Once, a black friend told me she feels sick when she drives past Belle Meade. We should tear this plantation down. Or, if we preserve it, we should turn it into a memorial, rather than a celebration of opulence that was made possible by slavery.
—Magdalene Semrau, 33, Nashville
Georgia’s state capitol and the area around it in downtown Atlanta have numerous outdoor statues honoring white politicians who were racists. I’m talking about people like John B. Gordon, Thomas E. Watson, Eugene Talmadge and Richard Russell. Of course, when you go back 60 or 70 years, it is nearly impossible to find a Georgia politician who wasn’t a racist. I’d like to see all of them moved to a museum. One Georgia politician who resisted the call of racism and paid for it politically was Charles L. Weltner. He represented Georgia’s 5th District in the House of Representatives. I’d like to see a statue of him.
—Rick Diguette, 63, Tucker, Ga.
There are two big statues of Christopher Columbus in this eponymous city: one each at city hall and the statehouse. But there are at least a couple of issues: First, he never set foot in North America and had no influence on the history of this area. The city was named after him because when the legislature formed a new capital in 1816, well, they had to give it some sort of name.
Second, nobody knows what he even looked like. Those statues are just generic, pleasant-looking 15th-century white guys. Columbus is in Franklin County, named for Ben Franklin. At least Ben had some influence. We have a statue of him, too. We should keep Ben and get rid of the generic statues.
—Robert Ellis, 67, Columbus, Ohio
I am very proud that the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center of Indianapolis celebrates the heroism and sacrifice of those who fought to preserve the United States and to end slavery. It is a 19th-century exuberance: immense and lavishly decorated with oversize statues of pioneers, buffaloes and bears.
—David Rowe, 63, Indianapolis
There is a statue of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, flanked by partially dressed figures of a Native American and African American, that stands on the front steps of the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. It seems to grotesquely subordinate the Native American and the African American to the great white father.
—Stephen Dailey, 63, New York
In the New Orleans area, there are at least 18 streets, a park and many monuments named for Confederate veterans, and an etching on a wall at City Hall that depicts a Confederate flag. Many of these individuals served in positive ways before and after the Civil War. For example, P.G.T. Beauregard spent his postwar years fighting for equal rights for the black population and served in the biracial government that the Liberty Place rebellion attempted to overthrow. That rebellion was opposed by troops commanded by former Confederate Gen. James Longstreet. Why not let history speak for itself and stop this pathetic political stunt to get Mayor Mitch Landrieu a future job? Now there are calls to remove President Andrew Jackson’s statue. When will it stop?
—Andrew Wilson, 61, River Ridge, La.
I feel strongly that towns should not display any religious symbols on public property, like crosses and monuments of the Ten Commandments, for example. We don’t have any of those in my home town, but they still exist in other, largely Christian towns. Separation of church and state means that religious symbols should not be used on government-owned property, such as courthouses and parks. Putting one religion ahead of others on public property makes those of us who are not in the Christian majority feel unwelcome.
—Paul Reed, 49, East Lansing, Mich.
There is a large statue of Capt. James Cook in downtown Anchorage. It is located on a bluff overlooking the Cook Inlet (named after him). The monument is a joke because Cook never set foot in Anchorage. He accidentally sailed up the Turnagain Arm in search of the Northwest Passage and was forced to turn around. (The arm got its name due to his error). Before retreating, Cook sent a few of his men ashore to make contact with the Athabaskan natives. They claimed the land for England and left soon after, even though the natives had lived there for centuries. The colonial-inspired statue is an insult to Alaska Natives’ heritage. It should be removed and remade to honor Alaska Natives.
—Kimberly Parsley, 25, Anchorage