Military Memorialization: Addressing the Debate over Confederate Army Generals in the Civil War

Authors: William Doe*, University of Colorado, Boulder, Kenneth Foote, University of Connecticut
Topics: Military Geography, Cultural Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Military Geography, Memorialization, Confederate Army Generals
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bonaparte, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The summer of 2017 witnessed a series of clashes in cities and on campuses over race, social justice and civil rights. One critical debate around these events, was how the memorialization of Confederate Army generals and politicians from the Civil War Era should be addressed. Specifically, the footprint of monuments and memorialized landscapes, in both the South and North, raised issues over whether these sites should remain, be removed or moved to other locations. For example, at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where the memorialization of General Robert E. Lee, an Academy graduate, former Superintendent, and Commander of the Confederate States, exists in several forms, the debate took on specific issues about how the military should address the Confederacy.
The military memorialization of famous Generals is central to the culture of the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Army, where many military installations have historically been named for them, including Confederate Generals such as Lee, Bragg, Benning and Polk. Hence, the debate over memorializing the Confederacy within the U.S. military has unique considerations.
In all of these debates, little attention has been given to framing the debate in a logical manner that uses the geographical frameworks of time, space, classification and categorization. Geographer Kenneth Foote’s Shadowed Landscapes provides a framework of sanctification, rectification, designation and obliteration to address memorialization in our society. Thus, it provides a useful context for how the U.S. military should address the issues around Confederate memorialization, both at West Point and in the U.S. Army.

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