DENVER (CBS4)– Though Colorado was not a state at the time of the Civil War, monuments to Union and Confederate soldiers can be found across the state.
With recent tensions across the nation, specifically after last weekend’s events in Charleston, some have suggested Confederate monuments are offensive.
Gov. John Hickenlooper sat down with CBS4’s Dillon Thomas to discuss whether the state should consider removing the few confederate monuments that exist on Colorado’s public land.
“At the end of the Civil War, a huge amount of money was invested so people would not forget the horrendous nature of war,” Hickenlooper said. “Most of the memorials are on private property. They are in people’s private cemeteries. I think private property is private property.”
Hickenlooper confirmed the state would not press for change to monuments on private property.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are now guarding one Denver monument, which is on private property. The monument is located at Riverside Cemetery in north Denver. Though confederate soldiers were not buried beneath the monument, more than one dozen are buried in the same cemetery.
Both Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the government needed to discuss the public property monuments with the community.
“I think it’s important to engage in this conversation and acknowledge our past and present while focusing on how we can move forward, together,” Hancock said in a statement issued to CBS4. “I believe there is power in acknowledging the events and lessons of our country’s history to move us to a place of understanding and healing.”
Hickenlooper compared the controversy around the confederate monuments to Colorado’s current debate over how to remember the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.
Hickenlooper said the state planned on creating a monument which addressed both sides of the historic event, while not glorifying violence and suppression.
“Government shouldn’t celebrate atrocities, and racism,” Hickenlooper said. “(Some of) those memorials are to celebrate the people who lost their lives, and believed so strongly in their cause, that they were willing to give their life.”
Like Hancock, Hickenlooper said the discussion would take place with the community, to evaluate whether or not changes should be made to any memorials that are on public land.
“Revisiting things like monuments, and plaques, in places where they are on public property absolutely makes sense,” Hickenlooper said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.