Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

Who Would Destroy the Reconciliation Monument at This Time of Year?

Originally published at Townhall

It is a sad chapter in American history when the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, takes naked action that is an affront to Congress and the separation of powers by running roughshod over Amendment 364 of the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of Defense Appropriations bill that prohibits the use of funds for the removal of any monument in Arlington National Cemetery. 

The specific monument being threatened with removal—the Reconciliation Monument crafted by the Jewish sculptor Moses Ezekial—is not only one of the most beautiful sculptures of its era. It is also one monument in Arlington that is aligned with the spirit of “e pluribus unum”—the one people out of many— that makes America unique and strong among all the world’s nations. 

Some people have called the Reconciliation Monument  masterpiece the Christmas monument, because of the reconciliation that God achieved when He sent Christ into the world to reconcile sinners with Him and to reconcile people with each other.  

The inspiration for the Reconciliation Monument started with President William McKinley, the 25th president. McKinley had served on the Union side in the Civil War, and was forlorn in seeing and experiencing the lingering division between the North and the South for decades after the Civil War.  But when he was president at the time of the Spanish American War in 1898, he witnessed the impressive contribution that enlistees and officers from the South made, who fought bravely side by side with soldiers from the North, enabling a surprisingly swift victory in less than four months. 

So it was that McKinley conceived the Reconciliation Monument as a way of celebrating success of a reunified Nation, that emerged at the end of that war—an event that also proved the United States had arrived as a leading power in the world.  This theme of respect and reconciliation between the northern and southern states was also supported by the next three presidents—Teddy Roosevelt, Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, who unveiled the monument in 1914.  Not only did they believe in the importance of reconciliation, but every president thereafter—Democrat and Republican—through the first year of Obama administration agreed and continued the tradition by laying a wreath at the foot of the monument every Memorial Day.  

But that all changed with the Woke Revolution of 2020.  After the urban riots and massive property destruction that swept across U.S. cities coast to coast after the unfortunate death of George Floyd, the U.S. Congress felt the need “to do something.” So, they formed a “Naming Commission” to “remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate Confederate states [or Confederate Generals] of America.” Their main task was the renaming of military bases in the south that had been named after Confederate generals, like Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. 

Although the Reconciliation Monument was neither conceived to commemorate nor pay tribute to the Confederacy, but rather to honor and celebrate the spirit of reunification and reconciliation of the North and the South,  the Democrat-dominated Naming Commission decided to ensnare the Reconciliation Monument in their crusade to remove all vestiges of anything related to the Confederate heritage. In so doing, they chose to break the law and ignore the explicit prohibition of desecrating grave sites. 

The woke revolution, which was and is a Marxist cultural revolution, seeks to divide and destroy—targeting the destruction of the traditional family, traditional Judaism and Christianity, America’s history and borders. So naturally the Reconciliation Monument had to go.

Patriots from all regions of America weren’t going to take this lying down, so they joined together and formed Defend Arlington ( to educate the broader public and raise funds to take legal action against the Department of Defense and the U.S. army which oversee and manage Arlington Cemetery and have been pushing for the monument’s removal. 

The Reconciliation Monument was to be the last major work of the sculptor, who also chose his future burial site to be at the foot of the monument. Thus, the monument is the gravestone of Moses Ezekial.   Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd may think there will be no consequences from running roughshod over a cease-and-desist demand letter from the U.S. Congress.  But he may find that supporting the desecration of a Jewish gravesite—is a bridge too far. Let’s hope that he comes to his senses, makes the choice to avoid legal action and the fate of being remembered as an antisemite.   

As of this writing, the crane has entered Arlington Cemetery and is positioned by the Reconciliation Monument. At the same time an emergency injunction is filed and is being considered by an Eastern Virginia court. Stay tuned, pray, and please give your support to the legal fund of 

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.