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Atlanta Removes ‘Lion of the Confederacy’ Statue

By Carol Willey

Following almost two years of repeated defacement, Oakland Cemetery’s “Lion of the Confederacy” monument was moved to an undisclosed location last month. The 127-year-old statue, recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as historically significant funerary art, was dedicated in April of 1895 by the Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association. The inscription on the monument says the society erected it in 1894. At the time, a reported 3,000 unidentified Confederate dead were reinterred at Oakland Cemetery.

The 30,000-pound statue appears to depict grief for the “Unknown Confederate Dead.” The face of the Lion is agonized and rests on a crumpled Battle Flag. Some describe the Lion as protecting a Confederate emblem. Sculptor T.M. Brady modeled the statue after Lucerne, Switzerland’s “Lion of Lucerne” monument. Erected in 1821, the “Lion of Lucerne” commemorates Swiss Guards killed in 1782 during the French Revolution. The “Lion of the Confederacy” and the base of the monument were carved of marble from Tate, Georgia.

The Atlanta City Council unanimously voted to remove the monument at its August 16 meeting. It was swiftly relocated on Wednesday, August 18. Oakland Cemetery is planning interpretive signage to mark “Lion Square” where the monument, also known as the “Lion of Atlanta,” once stood.

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