The news is reporting that Mayor Berke is withdrawing city maintenance from the Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery. I would suggest that this move is short-sighted and likely to defeat the very goals the mayor has in mind. There are better ways to handle this.
A recent Marist poll indicates that a majority of people do not want Confederate memorials removed. Even 40 percent of African Americans do not support such action. So the mayor’s policy is likely to arouse a lot of opposition. And probably some bitterness on the part of citizens who think we should honor our war dead and remember our history — however painful.
The park in question is quite large and beautiful, centrally located across from UTC and within walking distance of Erlanger. And it has plenty of room. Would it not be possible to add other memorials while respecting those already there? There are plenty of Union heroes with a Chattanooga connection, beginning with the Andrews raiders (the Great Locomotive Chase). It is quite likely that some Chattanoogans white and black fought on the Union side; it was a war of brother against brother. Are they memorialized anywhere? Cannot the mayor consider other options for this park?
It just seems like we are missing an opportunity to do something positive here.