As Arizona veterans of the United States Armed Forces, we call on you to immediately remove all Confederate monuments and memorials in our state, starting with the one at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza across the street from the Arizona Capitol.
These monuments dishonor and disrespect the service of those who swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...”
Make no mistake, the Confederate soldiers honored by these monuments were domestic enemies fighting for the cause of slavery, leading to the loss of nearly 620,000 lives during the Civil War.
These monuments dishonor and disrespect all of the African-American heroes that have served the United States in every war since the American Revolution. Today’s Armed Forces represent the most diverse institution in our country and these monuments dishonor all of those currently serving.
As veterans who have fought for our nation, for our freedom, we implore you to remove these monuments, built to honor those who took up arms and chose war over public discourse, for the purpose of denying other Americans’ freedom.
These monuments dishonor American soldiers, and they do an injustice to veterans of all colors and creeds who fought for these United States.
Anything that dishonors them, dishonors us.
We also recognize this moment in American history and know that only removing these symbols of the Confederacy does nothing to answer the demands of those protesting across the nation and Arizona since the killing of George Floyd.
We stand with those exercising their First Amendment rights to declare, “Black Lives Matter.”
We stand with those in Arizona asking you, Governor Ducey, to call a special legislative session to address law enforcement reform.
Many of us served in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11 and we have watched how the militarization of local enforcement agencies has only led to more violence and confrontation in our communities, especially African-American communities when the weapons we used in war end up on American streets.
We demand equal protection under the law for black Americans and legislation to root out the systemic racism inside police departments across Arizona.
Editor’s Note: This letter was signed by Scottsdale residents Travis Witzke, Army veteran; Steve Muratore, Air Force veteran; Mary Ellen Cavanagh Cunningham, Navy veteran; Miguel Medrano, Army veteran; and John Barwell, Marine Corps veteran.