Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Faulty Reporting Ignites National Debate over Alabama's Confederate Memorial Park

Confederate Memorial Park
There is a lot of misinformation ricocheting around today about Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Alabama.

An Associated Press report on the park has been picked up by newspapers, National Public Radio, the liberal Huffington Post and a host of other websites and blogs. The original report basically takes the premise that the State of Alabama is spending tax money to care for a park located on the grounds of the state's former Old Soldiers Home while other historic sites are in need of funding.

The idea the writer is attempting to convey, of course, is that state money is being spent on a Confederate landmark while other "more deserving" historic sites do not have the funding they need.

Cemetery at Confederate Memorial Park
First and foremost, its name aside, the park is NOT a Confederate landmark nor was the site involved in the War Between the States. In 1901, a new State Constitution was approved in Alabama that included a provision for a small amount of the state's taxes to be used in providing care for its elderly and disabled Confederate veterans. Union veterans received help from the U.S. Government, but Confederate veterans did not and the responsibility of caring for hundreds of needy and elderly veterans fell upon the people of the state. Otherwise, many of these men would have died homeless.

The inclusion of this item in the state's constitution was not intended to memorialize the Confederacy. Instead it was done to care for aged veterans that the U.S. Government had decided to ignore and forget. Over the years, the home provided a place to live and medical care for hundreds of veterans, many of whom were impoverished due to horrible wounds they had received in battle. Its cemeteries provided a final resting place for them.

Despite much of what is being written on blogs and message boards today, the funding was not a "Confederate tax," nor was it tied to the "Civil War." It simply was a humanitarian gesture to care for old men who had nowhere else to turn - a form of government healthcare, if you will.

Museum Exhibits
The park today preserves the historic grounds and ruins of the Old Soldiers Home and maintains the two cemeteries where more than 300 Alabama solders are buried. The museum there, contrary to much of what is being written there, is not a "Confederate museum." It is a museum that looks at Alabama's role in the War Between the States or Civil War from all perspectives. It does include exhibits on slavery, but also looks at how the war impacted the state. It presents a good balanced view of the war in Alabama and a visit is highly recommended to anyone traveling up and town I-65 between Montgomery and Birmingham.

This controversy is absolutely and totally ridiculous. Why should graves not be maintained and what is wrong with Alabama funding a museum that provides a balanced look at the Civil War?

After all, doesn't the U.S. Government do the same thing at its national parks and cemeteries?

To learn more about Confederate Memorial Park, please visit

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