Those We Honor
First Woman to Design a Monument in the United States
San Antonio, TX — International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, 2018 by the San Antonio chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) honoring Virginia Montgomery. Representatives of the local UDC displayed a wreath in her remembrance in Travis Park at 10:00 AM in downtown San Antonio, Texas.
In 1899, Montgomery was the first woman to design a monument in the United States, and did so at the request of the San Antonio chapter of the UDC. During a time when women still did not have the right to vote this women’s organization spent three years raising funds from a recovering nation, and received donations from both veterans of the north and south.
Virginia Montgomery was a world leader ahead of her time. A watercolorist, Montgomery lived independently, having never married. She wrote an article in February 1930 for the New Orleans’ Times-Picayune that unmarried women could be world leaders and expressed the diligence to fight “for ideals that will make tomorrow the finest type of civilization the world has ever known.”
On one side of the monument, the words “Lest We Forget,” were boldly engraved. The Chapter chose these words to echo Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Recessional,” recently published in Britain’s The Times newspaper in July 1897. The poem is in the form of a hymn, and Kipling wrote the poem to remind people that boasting and aggressiveness toward one another was inappropriate and in vain.
Though a few elite used their political power to enter the war, it was the common man left to do the fighting to save their homes, families and communities. As the country celebrated its reunion, the organization wanted to honor those that had fought on both sides in the Civil War. At the same time, Montgomery designed the statue to leave a lasting and poignant message that war is devastating and not something to repeat.
Through donations, the ladies were able to raise enough money to commission Montgomery and erect the statue that once stood in downtown Travis Park.
The San Antonio area chapter of the UDC honored Ms. Montgomery as a “woman before her time” and displayed the wreath in recognition of her on International Women’s Day in Travis Park, where the Monument she designed once stood.