DENVER - The violent conflict in Charlottesville coupled with the tearing down and/or defacing of Confederate memorials around the country got us wondering whether Colorado has any Civil War memorials of its own.
We found that there are six Civil War memorials around Colorado and two sit on public property.
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One is a wooden sign in Beulah that explains the city’s connection to the war. The sign explains that a Confederate regiment gathered in Beulah during the war and engaged in “guerilla activity.”
The other monument on public land is at the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen. It was dedicated in 1899 to the soldiers who fought on both sides.
Aspen was a popular destination for Civil War veterans who came in search of clean air and silver.
The other four memorials – two of which are dedicated exclusively to the confederacy -- sit in cemeteries. One of them is at Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.
The Colorado division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans built the Denver memorial in 1971 and have added things like a headstone, flag pole and bench over the years.
9NEWS asked for an interview with the group, but their leader, Don Creamer, declined.
The Verify team then contacted the Fairmont Heritage Foundation, which manages Riverside Cemetery and spoke with Ray Thal. He’s a member of the foundation and the author of a walking tour booklet about the cemetery’s Civil War connections.
“Yeah, I’ve certainly talked to people who find it disturbing that it’s here,” Thal said.
But he didn’t know of anyone contacting the foundation in recent days demanding its removal.
He thinks the Riverside memorial is different from the statues and flags being torn down across the country.
“We only allow them to fly the national flag as opposed to the traditional stars and bars that you see at the center of a lot of the controversy,” Thal said.
The national flag was the first, official flag of the confederacy. It’s laid out like the U.S. flag except it has three stripes and seven stars.
It wouldn’t be appropriate for the group to fly the battle flag, which is the one with the white stars inside the blue cross, Thal said.
The other difference is the memorial focuses on the confederate soldiers who are buried at the cemetery. He thinks about 15 confederate soldiers and 1,300 union soldiers are buried at Riverside.
“I think this is a much more appropriate way to do that than a statue of Robert E Lee or again, the battle flag,” Thal said.
The union soldiers have a larger, similarly designed memorial on the other side of the cemetery.
The final difference Thal sees between the memorial at Riverside and the ones causing heated debates is this one doesn’t use any tax dollars.
“I think it would be a much different story if this was on the Capitol grounds or Civic Center Park,” Thal said.
The other three confederate memorials are at Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs and Greenwood Cemetery in Canon City.
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