SHAF Statement Regarding the Destruction and Defacing of Civil War Monuments

Antietam, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain and Shepherdstown Battlefields, were scenes of major conflict during the Maryland Campaign of 1862. When these battlefields were recognized as historic sites where thousands of American lives were lost, and many thousands more forever changed, various groups chose to commemorate these places. The first commemoration, arguably, was to create cemeteries, to which the remains of those buried on the field were removed. After many years, statues, monuments and markers were erected to recognize the sacrifice and valor displayed by American soldiers at these sites. SHAF believes that any place Americans fought, bled, and died becomes hallowed ground, and thus are entitled to the solemnity accorded cemeteries. As recently as ten years ago, partial remains of soldiers were discovered on these sacred fields, demonstrating this land is still, essentially, hallowed ground.

We believe removing any vestige of one side on Civil War battlefields would present a distorted version of America’s greatest internal conflict. Rather than remove the commemorative artifacts of previous generations, we need to contextualize and interpret the past to advance education and support preservation. We therefore deplore the vandalizing of any statue or monument on this ground and oppose their removal. We instead call for a more thorough understanding through additional interpretive markers explaining the evolution of societal values and the power of historical memory.

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