Tenn. lawmaker seeks to preserve war names

Feb. 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

NASHVILLE, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it harder to rename public buildings, parks and monuments honoring Civil War figures.

While the legislation would cover buildings named after people from all of America's wars and conflicts, the issue is with several things named after those on the pro-slavery side of the Civil War, The (Nashville) Tennessean said Monday. In Memphis, the city council rushed to rename three parks in advance of a state Legislature vote scheduled on the measure Monday.

One of the three parks is named after Civil War general and purported Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Army ROTC building at Middle Tennessee State University is also named after Forrest, a school benefactor, and officials there have sought to change it.

The KKK has reportedly filed for a permit in Memphis to protest renaming the park, The Tennessean said.

The bill's author, state Rep. Steve McDaniel, a Republican, said he doesn't want to rewrite history.

"I just want to preserve our history," McDaniel said. "History is history and should be left there."

The legislation, dubbed the Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act, would force municipalities to apply for a waiver to a state commission if they want to rename something.

The legislation refers to the Civil War as the "War Between the States."

A companion bill has been introduced in the state Senate.

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