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The History and Meaning of the Shreveport Confederate Monument

On May 31, 2017, I traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana to see the Confederate Monument located at the Caddo Parish Courthouse and to meet with Paul Gramling about the monument’s future.  Ronnie Dancer, who operates a Facebook page called “The Who’s Who of Miller County Elected Officials” is a friend of mine from Miller County, Arkansas.  Ronnie and I had started talking about the recent issues and monument removals from New Orleans.  During our conversations, Ronnie asked if the Four States News would like to interview some of the people involved in defending the monuments.  Naturally, I was interested in talking with them.  I know that Ronnie is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and is a Lieutenant in the organization’s “Mechanized Cavalry” division, a motorcycle branch of the SCV.   Ronnie was quickly able to arrange a meeting at the monument currently being reviewed in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to meeting Mr. Gramling, all I knew about him was that he was a member of the SCV, the Lt. Commander-in-Chief of the SCV, and a defender of keeping the monuments in their current and original locations.  We arrived, found parking and as we unloaded the car, I noticed a man who seemed out of place sitting on a park bench in front of the courthouse.  Around him were tourist, homeless people, and a few police officers walking the area.  Despite the variety of people, Gramling stood out for his unique dress and appearance.  He had the appearance of a college professor who should be buried behind research books in some dusty, college office researching and studying history.    As we grew closer and made introductions, I noticed the symbols on his label and the insignia on him that clearly said, “Lt. Commander-in-Chief”.  Through our brief talks before we sat down, I learned that Mr. Gramling is not only a defender of the monuments and a member of the SCV, but he is the current number two person of the SCV in the United States.  As we had small talk it was also apparent that Mr. Gramling was by no means an uneducated man.  He knew history as he explained many aspects about the courthouse, its history, and even the history of the grounds surrounding the courthouse.  He spoke with a soft, authoritative voice that a professor might use in a college class and I began to suspect that by the end of the interview, he might just take out a pop quiz to see how much I was paying attention. We found a place just behind the monument and close to the steps of the courthouse to sit down and talk.  What started out as a simple conversation with some basic questions quickly turned into an hour and a half discussion.  There is simply no way I can put all the information that Mr. Gramling supplied into this article; however, I want to tell the reader what he had to say, what I saw, and what we should all know about the SCV, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and the various monuments erected by those organizations between the 1890s and the early 1900s.  It’s fascinating, it’s part of all of our history, and whether you agree with the history or not, it’s important that we know all sides in this battle over monuments that is currently being debated and discussed around the country. This monument to Confederate Veterans and those who died in the war is located at the Caddo Parish Courthouse.  The monument was built in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and placed on the National Historical Register by the Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism.   As anyone can tell you, the monument has many meanings to different people.  Despite those different meanings that people feel and express, the purpose is clearly stated and documented in the United National Historical Register’s 52-page application and on the monument, itself.  The monument states that it was “Erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  1905, Love’s Tribute to Our Gallant Dead.”  The left hand of Clio, who is considered the Muse of “History,” points to the word “Love”.  Her right hand is down and holds a scroll that before 2010 had the word “History” on it. Continue Reading →

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