Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Battle Over Civil War Monument in Florida Shows Why the Issue of Racial Prejudice Still Exists

The Confederacy Legacy Lobby – Defending the Indefensible

For almost all of us the Civil War is not and has not been a major issue in our lifetime.  It is an interesting and incredibly impactful historical event, one that still reverberates in today’s political issues, but as far as the Civil War itself is concerned, the issues in that fight were settled long ago.

But some people, men and women who for some unfathomable reason believe that the Civil War was a majestic enterprise of the South, the War is not over.  And in a state park in Florida the die hard defenders of southern honor are still at it.  The issue, whether or not to put a memorial to the Union troops in a battlefield park.

Union forces lost the Battle of Olustee on Feb. 20, 1864. The battlefield in North Florida is now home to one of the largest Civil War re-enactments in the Southeast. Kurz & Allison lithograph, via Florida Photographic Collection

Last year, nearly a century and a half after the Battle of Olustee, the Florida chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War made a request to the state parks department. It asked for permission to place an obelisk to honor Union soldiers (who lost the battle on Feb. 20, 1864) inside the three-acreOlustee Battlefield Historic State Park, the same patch of land that holds three monuments commemorating Confederate soldiers.

Okay, a simple enough request.  There were already three monuments in the part to Confederate soldiers.  But even acknowledging Union bravery and casualties was too much for the Confederate supporting diehards.

Last month, opposition to the monument exploded during a state parks workshop in nearby Lake City. Before a crowd packed into a school auditorium, a black advocate for the Confederacy (from out of state) waved a Confederate flag. Confederate supporters rose quickly to their feet and belted out “Dixie.” Speaker after speaker denounced the Union proposal.

“There are some, apparently, who consider this to be a lengthy truce and believe that the war is still going on,” said Mr. Custer, known as Buck.

The Confederate demands were clear. The Union monument could be built anywhere in the federal park, just not on the original three-acre state park where the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected their obelisk in 1912. “We are not opposed to the monument at all; we are opposed to the location, and here is why — it’s like any other historical building,” said James S. Davis, 66, the Florida division commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “You put something brand new in there and it destroys the significance of it.”

And in the leadership of the opposition,

Reinforcements were drafted, namely State Representative Dennis Baxley, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Gosh, a Republican leading the fight to glorify the cause of the South, who saw that coming?

There is a lot of controversy about the Civil War, but one thing that is agreed upon is that it was a war fought to end slavery and preserve the Union.  Those who support the Southern heritage aspect of this should remember they are fighting to honor those who fought to destroy the United States and perpetuate slavery.  Maybe they ought to think about that before the next time they say and do something stupid. 

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