By a unanimous vote last week members of the City of Falls Church’s Historical Commission forwarded a recommendation to the Planning Commission that a plaque marking the location of a so-called “Hanging Tree” at the corner of W. Broad and N. Virginia Ave. be removed as a relic with a tacit pro-Confederacy message.
Legend held that a tree once located there was used by Confederate Gen. Mosby to hang Union spies during the Civil War, although it has been disputed that the tree in question, removed in 1968 having died, was the authentic site.
The concern expressed has been that the tree and subsequent plaque, dedicated in 1985, represent a pro-Confederacy “taunt, akin to displaying a noose, and reminder of lynchings in general.”
The call for removal of the plaque came first in a July 9 News-Press editorial, “Hangman’s Tree Plaque Must Go,” in the context of removing pro-Confederate names and monuments throughout the region and nation in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and the rise of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
Keith Thurston, a member of Historic Falls Church, said his organization is willing to replace the plaque with one that honors the City’s role encouraging tree growth and nature.