The Memphis City Council seems bent on creating a firestorm over the removal of all traces of General Nathan B. Forrest, CSA. They do this in the face of opposition from his descendants. The Forrest family has made clear that they are “solidly opposed to digging up the graves and moving them any place.” They are opposed to moving the statue as well. The council will also be in opposition with at least two applicable State laws.
One law deals with the functions of disinterment, requiring justifications and a judge’s approval:
This chapter, which is enacted for the public welfare in the exercise of the police powers of the state of Tennessee, applies to any burial ground in the state of Tennessee, including any land owned or controlled by cemetery companies, which the court to which jurisdiction is given by this chapter finds, for any of the reasons hereinafter stated, is unsuitable for its use as such and as a resting place for the dead whose whole remains are buried therein, or the further use of which for such purposes the court finds, for any of such reasons, is inconsistent with due and proper reverence or respect for the memory of the dead or otherwise unsuitable for such purposes, the reasons being:
(1) The burial ground having been abandoned; or
(2) The burial ground being in a neglected or abandoned condition; or
(3) The existence of any conditions or activities about or near the burial ground which the court finds render the further use of same for the purposes aforementioned inconsistent with due and proper reverence or respect for the memory of the dead, or for any other reason unsuitable for such purposes.
The other is a State law protecting ALL war memorials in the State regardless of which war:
(1) No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, or plaque which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, U.S.-Mexican War, the War Between the States, Spanish American War, the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada), Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War 1), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Persian Gulf War II), and is located on public property, may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed.
(2) No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit, and is located on public property, may be renamed or rededicated.
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