Coming Soon: Large Confederate Memorial on I-10 – TX
The Sons of Confederate Veterans are now nearing completion on a monument to their ancestors just off I-10, just this side of the Sabine and the Louisiana border. Situated at the corner of I-10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, “The Confederate Memorial of the Wind” will feature a walkway lined by the Confederate battle flag and those of several dozen Texas regiments leading up to a circular monument composed of 13 columns honoring each of the Confederate states. Soon, motorists entering Texas from Louisiana on Interstate 10 will be greeted by 32 waving flags representing Texas regiments of the Confederate army as soon as the flagpoles are erected.
“I don’t like it. I think it’s a bad idea,” Orange City Attorney John Cash “Jack” Smith said last week. “But they own the property, and the First Amendment warrants them that right.” The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group behind the $50,000-memorial, just ordered the custom-made flag poles, said Marshall Davis, Texas Division spokesman. The group has been raising money for the project for two years and construction has moved along as fund have allowed.
Around the time the project got underway two years ago, Granvel Block, an Orange resident and the SCV’s Texas statewide commander, rejected the idea, often espoused by the NAACP, that Confederate symbols are hateful relics of white supremacy and slavery.
Block said the group wants to preserve history. He said some people, white and black, do not like the Confederate battle flag design because they don’t understand the history. “So many things (about the Confederacy) have been taught wrong or with a poor skew,” he said. As examples, he said the Civil War was not fought over slavery and that slaves were owned in the north, not exclusively in the south. He said individual state governments were sovereign and that “our states were invaded by northern troops.”
In an editorial, the Beaumont Enterprise called the project “divisive,” “offensive,” and “the last thing Southeast Texas needs,” one that with its prominent position next the area’s primary conduit to the outside world, could sully the reputation of the entire region. “Your support will enable passengers in over 55,000 cars per day to see the Confederate flag flying proudly in the Texas breeze.”, reads an SCV appeal.
The SCV purchased the plot for $9,000 several years ago. Donations and the sale of commemorative plaques and inscriptions have funded the $50,000 project, according to SCV officials. Elsewhere, the SCV Texas chapter is in a higher profile battle protracted war over its beloved battle flag, Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans now before the United States Supreme Court, where they are challenging the State of Texas’s rejection to sell vanity SCV license plates bearing the organization’s logo and the Confederate battle flag. The SCV argues that the ban is a violation of free speech while the State of Texas maintains that it has the right to approve or deny what goes on government-issued license plates, as it might imply endorsement of the message. It seems the same principle would apply here. The SCV owns the land and took no tax money.
The thirteen columns that represent the states that fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War already stand north of the interstate off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The group will add eight flags as soon as the poles come in – though Davis can’t estimate when that will be – and the remaining flags will be added in increments of eight as funds allow until all 32 stand around the circular monument. Each flag with have a nameplate and history of the flag. Locals whose ancestors fought in the Confederate Army or Navy also contributed to the memorial by purchasing bricks at $50, $300 and $500 and benches at $800, according to the group’s website.
Granvel Block of Orange, commander of the statewide SVC group and the Orange camp and main force behind the project, rebuffs arguments that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. He said slave owners were scattered across the map, not just the south. He said the Confederate states fought for their sovereignty when “our states were invaded by northern troops.” Granvel said the memorial, besides honoring Confederate veterans, will serve an educational purpose, setting the record straight on many aspects of the Confederacy’s history. Granvel, who also is a plaintiff in a recent free-speech case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court that argued that Texas was wrong in rejecting a specialty vehicle license plate displaying the Confederate flag, has since asked Davis to handle all questions about the Orange memorial.