Date: June 9, 2009
TN TOWN VOTES TO INCLUDE CONFEDERATE MEMORIALS AFTER WARNING FROM SLRC
JONESBOROUGH, TN – The Town Council of Jonesborough, TN, on Monday night reversed its previous position and voted to allow bricks honoring Confederate soldiers to be included among those in a memorial area at its recently renovated Veterans’ Park.
The town had previously declared that bricks donated to the veterans’ memorial could bear only the names of United States veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present; Confederates did not count as U.S. veterans, it said. The change in policy occurred five days after Southern Legal Resource Center Executive Director Roger McCredie sent a letter to Mayor Kelly Wolfe on behalf of local members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. McCredie’s letter called the town’s exclusion of Confederates “blatantly discriminatory” and said it violated the civil rights of both the soldiers and their descendants. He noted that several Union soldiers’ names were included among the markers already in place.
Included in the SLRC’s letter were copies of documents from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs showing that the U.S. Government has since 1929 made Government-issue gravestones available for Confederate veterans. Also included was a copy of a 1958 law making Confederate veterans and their surviving spouses eligible for pensions on the same level as for any other U.S. veteran. “Clearly the Government’s intent in these and other actions was to establish that Confederate veterans were to be honored and compensated, in all areas and respects, equally with their Union counterparts,” McCredie told the mayor. He concluded by requesting that the town “do the legally and morally correct thing” by including Confederate bricks at the memorial.
McCredie said Jonesborough town attorney Jim Wheeler called him last Friday. “I was out of the office,” McCredie said. “I called him back but he was gone for the day. We’ve been playing phone tag ever since, but still haven’t connected. I think Kirk [SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons] tried to reach him as well. I presume he was calling to tell me what his advice to the town council would be.” At Monday’s meeting, Wheeler told the council his research indicated “this is a decision for the town of Jonesborough … to make.” The Board then voted unanimously to allow the Confederate memorials