H.R. 970 (Brown), Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act
H.R. 4135 (Norton), To direct the Secretary of the Interior to remove the statue to the memory and in honor of Albert Pike erected near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia
H.R. 7550 (McEachin), To direct the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to inventory Confederate commemorative works on certain Federal lands
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, REGARDING H.R. 970, THE ROBERT E. LEE STATUE REMOVAL ACT; H.R. 4135, A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO REMOVE THE STATUE TO THE MEMORY AND IN HONOR OF ALBERT PIKE ERECTED NEAR JUDICIARY SQUARE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES; AND H.R. 7550, A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, AND THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO INVENTORY CONFEDERATE COMMEMORATIVE WORKS ON CERTAIN FEDERAL LANDS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
July 21, 2020
Chair Haaland, Ranking Member Young, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s (Department) views on H.R. 970, the Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act; H.R. 4135, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to remove the statue to the memory and in honor of Albert Pike erected near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes; and H.R. 7550, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to inventory Confederate commemorative works on certain federal lands, and for other purposes.
Under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution, Congress has the “power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.” With respect to historic objects, Congress has directed the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service Organic Act, to conserve these historic objects and provide for their enjoyment “by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
America is built on past sacrifices and struggles that should not be forgotten. Our parks, civil rights sites, Civil War battlefields, monuments, memorials, and programs are critical resources that help tell America’s full national story. These resources encourage us to develop a deeper understanding of the American experience, especially through the difficult times.
In the preservation of our Nation’s history, we pay respects to those who, despite their flaws, placed their virtues and life in service to strive for a more perfect union. History is not ours alone, it belongs to the generations of the past, present, and future to serve as a collective national memory. The National Park Service (NPS) is committed to preserving these commemorative works while simultaneously educating visitors holistically about the actions, motivations, and causes of the soldiers and states they commemorate.
President Donald J. Trump signed two Executive Orders, E.O. 13933, Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence and E.O. 13934, Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes, to defend against the recent violence and vandalism aimed at monuments and preserve them for generations to come. These Executive Orders will ensure no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by the use of force while peacefully transmitting our national story for generations to come through newly commissioned monuments of American heroes.
Criminals who vandalize national memorials and monuments will be prosecuted. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served.
As Congress considers legislation to remove any particular monument or memorial from areas under the jurisdiction of the NPS, or to examine the inventory of commemorative works managed by the NPS, such as provided in H.R. 970, H.R. 4135, or H.R. 7550, the NPS will continue to provide historical context and interpretation for all sites and monuments in order to correct any errors or reflect a fuller view of past events and the values under which they occurred.