Your Opinion: Jefferson City should remove Confederate monuments

Brian Kaylor

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

As cities across the nation remove monuments honoring Confederates, Jefferson City should, too. The memorial to a Confederate general at the intersection of Moreau Drive and Fairmount Boulevard not only laments that the Lost Cause lost but is historically inaccurate. The plaque claims Sterling Price "turned from Jefferson City" after "deciding against attack." That's an odd marker. Why celebrate a decision not to attack? But, then, why do we celebrate those who lost their treasonous war against this nation?

Yet the claim on the plaque isn't accurate. Price did attack; he just didn't get very far. He hoped to capture Missouri's capital and shift the state to the Confederacy. After getting closer, he realized Union forces vastly outnumbered his, so he decided to retreat. A few weeks later, Price lost a battle at Westport, ending Confederate hopes west of the Mississippi. Price and his troops soon fled to Arkansas, and the rest of Price's Confederacy surrendered a few months later.

The stone memorial doesn't mark the spot where Price decided to end his attack. And instead of honoring the Union soldiers who protected the city - and perhaps the state - the marker honors Price the slave owner. This might be one of the most pathetic Confederate memorials. All the more reason for its removal. This isn't about erasing history but about who we honor. And our marker isn't even historically accurate.

But history wasn't the point. When installed in 1933, such markers weren't about honoring those who fought but celebrating white supremacy amid Jim Crow. That's why the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which installed the Jefferson City marker, placed monuments across the nation honoring Confederate and KKK leaders. They weren't remembering the past but making statements about what kind of nation they wanted in the present and future. Our city apparently left them without a grand battle to honor, so we got this dumb rock.

Our city's leaders should work to remove this inaccurate and offensive memorial, or replace the plaque with one honoring the Union soldiers who stopped a Confederate assault on the city. Let's send a message that we won't honor those who sought to enslave our neighbors - like the black Union veterans who started Lincoln University not far from this Confederate memorial later appeared. Let's send a message that all are welcome in our community.

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