US Air Force veteran explains push to remove Charleston plaque

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A U.S. Air Force veteran said he pushed the city of Charleston to remove a plaque honoring Confederate soldiers for multiple reasons, including historical inaccuracies.

Calvin Grimm spoke on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” about why he asked Charleston city officials to remove the marker at Ruffner Memorial Park, noting the city should not honor individuals who represented the Confederacy.

“It’s un-American,” he said. “There is nothing about the Confederacy that should be represented on public grounds period.”

Crews on Monday removed the plaque dedicated to the Kanawha Riflemen, a militia chapter associated with the Confederate Army. The United Daughters of the Confederacy installed the plaque in 1922; Grimm said the dedication happened on the anniversary of Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

Grimm noted historical issues with the plaque; the militia group did not start in 1856 as listed, but rather 1859 following John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry aimed at starting a slave revolution.

“These men were all slaveholders in the Kanawha Valley,” he said of the militia members.

“Between them, they owned 237 slaves.”

Grimm also noted the use of a “colored cook, faithful during the war,” which Grimm took exception.

“That is a gross misrepresentation of what that man accomplished in life, and he was most likely conscripted,” he said. “This notion that he faithfully served during the war … that perpetuates to the narrative that slaves somehow enjoyed being enslaved, and that goes back to the underlying problems with all of this Confederate narrative.”

Grimm said the plaque could be placed in the West Virginia Culture Center although with notes about the historical errors. He added discussions about streets and monuments honoring Confederate leaders should happen.

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