Published on September 22, 2017

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For immediate release—September 22, 2017
Contact: Terry Heder/SVBF (540-740-4545)

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation Issues Major Statement on Civil War Monuments

Opposes Removal of Existing Monuments, Advocates for New Monuments, Considers Proposals to Relocate Monuments
Announces Plans to Host Conference on Confederate Icons

NEW MARKET, Virginia — In the wake of the current controversies surrounding Civil War monuments, and in an effort to show leadership on the issue, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF), which manages the 8-county Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, today released a new policy stating the SVBF’s approach to Civil War monuments.  The monument policy states that the “SVBF is opposed to the wholesale eradication or removal of plaques, statues, monuments, place names, and other public honors associated with the history and heritage of the United States.”

SVBF CEO Keven M. Walker said that, “We need to be building a greater understanding of our past, not tearing down the monuments and reminders of our collective struggles and triumphs.”

The SVBF policy also “supports state laws that would forbid local governments from removing or damaging monuments, and prefers that historic monuments remain located where they were originally placed.  However, if Civil War monuments that have relevance to the Valley are removed from their original locations, the SVBF is open to assisting with appropriate relocation of such monuments to the National Historic District.”

Regarding the addition of new monuments, the policy states that “The SVBF will consider the addition of monuments to its battlefield and historic sites when they add to the commemoration and interpretation of those places and do not significantly detract from their historic integrity.”  Following on that approach, the SVBF currently has two new monument projects underway for the Third Winchester Battlefield.

The policy further states that “Rather than taking down Confederate monuments, we should be adding additional monuments that address the subjects of slavery, the Underground Railroad, self-emancipation, U.S.C.T. service, the 13th through 15th amendments, reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Acts. Existing monuments should be kept intact, but can often be complemented with interpretative signage that provides context and reflects a broader history than the monument itself evidences.”

As the policy notes, “Our history sometimes involves terrible judgment and shocking inhumanity to our fellow humans, but we should not hide that history. We should, instead, learn from our flaws, recognize our progress, and acknowledge that still more progress must come.”

“Monuments are an important part of interpreting our historic sites,” said Terry Heder, the SVBF’s Director of Interpretation, Education, and History.  “They provide focal points not just for the events they commemorate, but also for how we as a nation have come to grips with that history in the years that followed.”

A copy of the SVBF’s full monument policy is available here.

In addition to issuing this new policy, the SVBF also announced plans to host a conference in January 2018 to discuss the issue of monuments and other Civil War iconography.  Titled “The Rise and Fall of Confederate Icons,” the conference will bring together leading historians to discuss the topic from a variety of viewpoints, covering the history of such iconography from the immediate post-Civil War-period to today.  More details will be announced soon

The SVBF also announced that its 2018 Calendar will focus on Civil War monuments and will feature images of Union, Confederate, and other Civil War monuments from throughout the Shenandoah Valley. The calendar will be released next month, and is available for pre-order now at www.ShenandoahAtWar.org or by calling 540-740-4545.

For more information, call the Battlefields Foundation at 540-740-4545 or email info@svbf.net.