Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects, and interprets one of the best marked battlefields in the world. There are 1,328 monuments, memorials, markers, and plaques on the battlefield that commemorate and memorialize the men who fought and died during the Battle of Gettysburg and continue to reflect how that battle has been remembered by different generations of Americans.
Roughly a quarter of these memorials honor southern states whose men served in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. These memorials, erected predominantly in the early and mid-20th century, are an important part of the cultural landscape.
Across the country, the National Park Service maintains and interprets monuments, markers, and plaques that commemorate and memorialize those who fought during the Civil War. These memorials represent an important, if controversial, chapter in our Nation’s history. The National Park Service is committed to preserving these memorials while simultaneously educating visitors holistically about the actions, motivations, and causes of the soldiers and states they commemorate. A hallmark of American progress is our ability to learn from our history.
Many commemorative works, including monuments and markers, were specifically authorized by Congress. In other cases, a monument may have preceded the establishment of a park, and thus could be considered a protected park resource and value. In either of these situations, legislation could be required to remove the monument, and the NPS may need to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act before removing a statue/memorial.
Still other monuments, while lacking legislative authorization, may have existed in parks long enough to qualify as historic features. A key aspect of their historical interest is that they reflect the knowledge, attitudes, and tastes of the people who designed and placed them. Unless directed by legislation, it is the policy of the National Park Service that these works and their inscriptions will not be altered, relocated, obscured, or removed, even when they are deemed inaccurate or incompatible with prevailing present-day values. The Director of the National Park Service may make an exception to this policy.
The NPS will continue to provide historical context and interpretation for all of our sites and monuments in order to reflect a fuller view of past events and the values under which they occurred.