I was ROLLING when news came Wednesday morning that Hollywood Forever Cemetery had removed a monument to Confederate soldiers in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy. Multiple outlets reported that the granite pillar was the only Confederate memorial of its kind in California (Fort Bragg is named after some Dixie loser, and there are a couple of markers left commemorating the old Jefferson Davis Highway around Bakersfield). The Los Angeles Times even dispatched a reporter—I’m assuming Anh Do, since her name is on a triple-bylined story and the veteran scribe has been based in Orange County her entire career—to Fairhaven Memorial Park in SanTana, where there are more than a few Grays buried. Unsurprisingly, the Times reporter found someone opposed to taking down statues and markers honoring the Lost Cause.
Silly MSM! If y’all had any clue of what to do, you’d know that the last remaining Californian Confederate monument is actually in Orange County. If the Times had any reporters who actually knew their shit, they’d have walked over from Fairhaven Memorial to the next-door Santa Ana Cemetery, where there stands what its architects call the largest Confederate monument in the Western United States. And they would know that its story is yet another example of the fucked-up racial politics of Orange County, and how the majority of our history buffs are revanchist apologists who yet can get away with almost anything because the rest of OC is ignorant AF.
The monument is the collective wet dream of former SanTana Mayor Gordon Bricken and members of the Orange County-based Southern Confederate Veterans (SCV) Camp 1770. They and others took it upon themselves to try and document all of the Civil War veterans buried in Orange County, with a special emphasis on the Confederacy. See, many of OC’s pioneers fought in the War Between the States, but Confederates never nearly got enough love like the Yanks. As recounted in Bricken’s The Civil War Legacy in Santa Ana, he decided to start honoring his loser ancestors after some kids vandalized a Confederate marker at the Santa Ana Cemetery. That culminated in a six-foot marble pillar fronted by a Southern Cross of Honor that holds the Stars and Bars and reads “C.S.A”—the Confederated States of America.
So when did this glorification campaign happen? Late 19th century? Maybe 1910s, when the majority of Confederate memorials went up at the height of Jim Crow? Maybe 1950s, when the South fought viciously against the Civil Rights Movement and erected them to try and reaffirm white supremacy?
Try 2004. As in the 21st century. As in 13 years ago. In Southern California. In SanTana.
Stay classy, OC!
“Gentlemen, I want to thank you for putting on one of the best ceremonies I have ever seen,” wrote Chuck Norred, commander for the California Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, in the July 2004 edition of The Vidette, the official newsletter of the California Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (it now goes by The Republic). “The monument is beautiful…I don’t believe on the West Coast there is a monument that measures up to the Santa Ana Monument”
The monument itself seems straightforward save for two inscriptions at its base. One of them, on the side, thanks Bricken and SCV Camp 1770, ending with Deo Vindice—”With God as Our Defender,” the official motto of the Confederacy. But that didn’t hail Dixie enough for Bricken and his pals, so they put the following at the front of the base:
To honor the sacred memory of the pioneers who built Orange County after their valiant efforts to defend the Cause of Southern Independence.
Read that again. “Valiant efforts”? “Cause of Southern Independence?” “Sacred memory” of men who brought their white supremacy ways to their new homeland and implemented it against Mexicans and blacks for decades? Spare me.
Its unveiling earned only a perfunctory blip in the Orange County Register by Cindy Arora, who’s now a star reporter for the Times. “The memorial is dedicated to the Confederate soldiers and their families who came to Orange County after the Civil War,” she wrote, obviously working off a press release. “The memorial is different because most Civil War monuments are dedicated to those who died in the war” (not really, Days of Cindy Past: the Hollywood Forever one was also dedicated to Confederate vets on the West Coast). It has remained inconspicuous ever since, with an occasional mention in a Register story or slideshow and in Bricken’s obituary in the Times, which bowdlerized the Confederate phallic stand-in as a “Civil War monument.” Did I forget to mention that Bricken is buried just feet away from it?
SVC Camp 1770 has celebrated Confederate Memorial Day (yes, such a thing exists outside the South) at the monument every year since its dedication, including this year. That there’s such romanticizing of a bunch of racist traitors who went on to enforce Juan Crow across Orange County, of course, isn’t surprising. This is a place, after all, where we still have schools, streets and parks named after OC pioneers who were Klan members. For chrissakes, one of those pioneers whose “sacred memory” and “valiant efforts” SVC Camp 1770 and Bricken honored was Henry W. Head, the de facto founder of Orange County who’s buried at the Santa Ana Cemetery and who was a member of the original KKK that wanted to carry on the club in Orange County in the 1890s. Of course, none of this history made it into Head’s entry in Bricken’s The Civil War Legacy in Santa Ana—instead, his co-writers plagiarized parts of Head’s bio from another publication.
The Santa Ana Cemetery Confederate monument was still up as of this morning, and here’s the obligatory disclaimer: The Weekly does not endorse vandalism. Far from it, let this particular monument stand, not just as a reminder of Orange County’s bigoted past and present, but to shame the rest of us for being so clueless. Know your OC history!
Besides, the location of this waste of a pillar is exactly where it should be: surrounded by a sea of Mexican and Vietnamese headstones.