Future of Confederate monument at Santa Ana Cemetery in question following Charlottesville clash
SANTA ANA – A four-faced granite Confederate monument stood largely unbothered Thursday afternoon, Aug. 17, at Santa Ana Cemetery, the peaceful setting a sharp contrast to the bloody clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.
Still, the future of the pillar-style monument erected in 2004 by the Orange County chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has come into question.
Tim Deutsch, general manager of the Orange County Cemetery District that oversees the Santa Ana property at 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave., said he had been contemplating a “proactive approach” since Thursday morning, when an OC Weekly story on the statue generated a buzz around the community. The district, whose board approved the monument in 2000, has reached out to the owners.
“We hope that the Sons of the Confederate Veterans will see what’s going on around the country and what’s right and remove it for the sake of its protection, as well as the visitors in that area,” Deutsch said, “because I’d hate to see someone try to come and try to take it upon themselves and do something that’s going to be detrimental to all the other graves that are around it.”
The district’s next board meeting is Sept. 5, and “if we don’t take action before then, we will be discussing it at that point,” Deutsch said of the monument.
One face of the monument has engraved prominently, high up, a reference to the Confederate States of America, “1861 C.S.A. 1865.” At the foot of the monument are the words, “To honor the sacred memory of the pioneers who built Orange County after their valiant efforts to defend the Cause of Southern Independence.” A Southern Cross of Honor sits in front of the inscription.
Names of 33 people with Confederate ties, along with their birth and death dates, are carved into squares on the monument, among them, “President Jefferson Davis, Confederate States of America,” “General Robert E. Lee, Army of Northern Virginia,” and “Lt. Gen. Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, 2nd Corps. Army of N. VA.”
What course the monument’s owners will take remains to be seen.
Cypress resident Jim Pederson, who is a “friend” of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans because of his wife’s ancestral connection to Confederate soldiers, said there has been no determination on the monument.
“There’s concern that we could individually be targeted,” said Pederson, 57, adding that the chapter, which has about 30 members, was not ready to comment on Thursday. The group will discuss the matter at their meeting on Sunday, he said.
Speaking for himself, Pederson said, “Sure, I’d like it to remain there.”
“I haven’t known that anybody’s threatened it, at least not yet,” he said.
Deutsch said the monument — the creation of former Santa Ana Mayor Gordon Bricken, who is buried at the cemetery — has not been vandalized in the dozen years he’s worked there.
On Thursday afternoon, a man took pictures of all four sides of the monument before heading back to his office down the street.
A woman walking by to visit the grave of her late cousin didn’t know what the monument was about. “I guess the statue would be OK, but maybe removing the (cross) placard. Some people use that and the (Confederate) flag to create racism,” said Nancy Ramirez, 25, of Santa Ana. “Maybe removing that would cause less tension.”
The “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville was organized by white nationalists in protest of a plan by local officials to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s top general, from Emancipation Park. A car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and another car killing paralegal Heather Heyer and wounding at least 34 people. Two state troopers, who were providing video surveillance of Saturday’s protests, also died when their helicopter crashed.
“The tendency of groups like (neo-Nazis) to pick up these (Confederate) symbols of people that lived a long time ago is really sad,” Pederson said. “Anybody who’s involved with any Southern heritage or any conservative in general abhors these groups.”
More than 750 veterans of all conflicts are interred at Santa Ana Cemetery and of approximately 350 who fought in the Civil War, about 16 are Confederate soldiers that settled in Orange County, Deutsch said. Neither of the cemetery district’s two other properties – Anaheim Cemetery and El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest – have Confederate statues.
With Hollywood Forever Cemetery removing a statue of Confederate soldiers on Wednesday morning, the one at Santa Ana Cemetery may be the last Confederate monument in California.
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