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University Clarifies Flower Removal Policy for Confederate Monuments

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Those who support the memory of the Confederate soldiers laid flowers at the Civil War cemetery located on the University of Mississippi campus on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. Photo by Talbert Toole.

A Facebook group called “Make Ole Miss Great Again” alleged that flowers placed at the University of Mississippi’s Confederate statue for the past two months were removed by the landscaping department. The group also stated the removal of the flowers was decided by members of the UM administration, specifically Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks. 

However, Rod Guajardo, associate director of strategic communications, told Hottytoddy.com Tuesday morning this claim was false.

“In recent days, flowers have been left by members of the public at the base of the Confederate monument on our campus. The university’s Landscape Services team is leaving the flowers in place for a period of time before moving them to the Confederate Cemetery on campus,” Guajardo said. “This approach enables the university staff to maintain our physical campus and normal operations.”

The controversy regarding the removal of the flowers initially began on April 24, when Andy McWilliams had flowers sent to the statue on campus.

Photos taken by Hottytoddy.com showed the note attached to the flowers read as “In memory of millions of people freed by the emancipation proclamation.”

However, McWilliams said the note originally read as “In memory of The University Greys from Son’s of the Confederate Veterans Camp,” and claimed someone must have replaced the note or written the new message on the other side.

“That’s like stealing from the dead,” McWilliams said. “Stealing their honor.”

McWilliams said his great-great-grandfather was in Company D of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

“I have personal feelings about this,” he said. “He fought alongside the University Greys and survived Pickett’s Charge.”

Five days later on April 29, another vase of flowers was placed at the base of the Confederate statue located on the Oxford Historic Square.

According to statements made by members of the “Make Ole Miss Great Again” page, many decided to begin sending flowers to both statues and the Confederate Cemetery located south of the Tad Pad Coliseum.

However, it was George “K-Rack” Johnson, leader of Memphis based organization “Confederate 901” and the “Mississippi Stands Rally,” who began to organize a movement to place flowers at the statues and cemetery this past Memorial Day. Johnson came to campus on Monday to honor the Confederate soldiers who he said are considered United States veterans.

Flowers were laid at the base of the Confederate statue located on the Oxford Historic Square on April 29. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Johnson said he agreed with Guajardo’s statement regarding the flowers; he said he visited the campus on Monday to pay his respects at the statue and Confederate Cemetery.

Approached by a University Police Department officer at the cemetery, Johnson said the officer stated once those who paid their respects left the area the flowers would be taken up.

Johnson asked the officer when this policy to remove the flowers was implemented.

“He clearly stated the policy was implemented within the last 24 hours,” Johnson said.

“It is an absolute shame that on a day that is set aside to do exactly what [we have] done today to make it a political thing. All veterans in this country should be respected regardless of what war they fought in.”

Many flowers that were placed at the base of the monument in the Confederate cemetery were also accompanied by notes that read, “In memory of fallen soldiers everywhere.”

Flowers laid at the base of both the Confederate statue and Civil War cemetery at the University of Mississippi had notes that said “In Memory of Fallen Soldiers Everywhere. By Talbert Toole.

At approximately 1 p.m. Wednesday, the flowers in the Confederate Cemetery still remained.

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