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Open letter to mayor asks Farmville to keep Confederate statue

Dear Mayor Whitus:

After the removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville and Durham last year, many news media sources, political reformers, and many other citizens have demanded for Confederate monuments in other cities in the United States to be either demolished or removed. Many people perceive the monuments as racist because they honor the Confederate soldiers who fought to preserve slavery. To some, the monuments are a painful mnemonic of past events. It has been a huge controversy over whether the Confederate monuments should be torn down, removed permanently, left where they are, or placed in museums. Farmville, however, should keep their Confederate monument exactly where it is.

I am from a small rural town in Virginia called Halifax, which is much like Farmville. We too have a Confederate monument like Farmville does. The Confederate monuments have a great meaning to them, especially in more southern places like Farmville. The monuments are often seen as a symbol of racism because most of them were built during the era of Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in southern states. However, that isn’t what the monuments were built to represent.

The Defenders of State Sovereignty monument, which is located on High Street, was built in 1900. It has been standing there for 120 years. Thousands of people, such as students and faculty of Longwood, residents of Farmville and countless tourists have passed by that monument. It may have different meanings or represent different things to different people. But to Farmville, it represents something far greater than just some soldier, or just another monument. The Confederate monument represents a part of American history and southern heritage. Farmville was considered part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Many of the residents of Farmville had ancestors who fought in the Confederate army, so the monument means even more to them because of that. It gives real hints as to what the people of the Town of Farmville cherish and recall of their past and what they want others to remember as well.

Removing this monument from Farmville would be like removing a part of history. The history is important.

It shouldn’t be ignored or pushed under the rug. It’s part of what got us to where we are today. The history of the Confederacy is written in textbooks and taught in schools. It is a topic that students, especially in southern states, learn about all the time. The monuments explain a part of history in the same way that textbooks do. Textbook authors haven’t removed the chapter that talks about the Civil War and the South’s role in the Confederacy. Schools haven’t stopped teaching about it. So, why remove a monument that teaches us about that same history? The history of this town and our ancestors who may have once lived in this same town and been a part of the Civil War. Removing the monument would be like trying to remove or hide the history of this great town.

Keeping the monument could also save the town much more money. Removing monuments like the one here in Farmville can cost a very large amount of money. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, it would cost Richmond an estimated $5 million or more to remove 5 monuments. That means it would cost about $1 million to remove each individual monument. Virginia also has a law that makes it illegal to bar war memorials. In 2017, the Charlottesville City Council ordered for the removal of the Confederate monuments of General Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. However, Judge Richard E. Moore blocked the effort to remove those statues. He stated that any effort to remove the Lee and Jackson monuments would violate a state historic preservation statute and issued an indefinite ruling to prevent their removal.

When deciding whether to keep the monument where it is or removing it all together, please take into consideration what the monument is there for. Think of all those who fought and died for the Confederacy, as some of those soldiers may have been your ancestors, my ancestors, or ancestors of other residents of this town. This monument is a major piece of Farmville history and heritage. Why remove the monument and hide or erase a part of history that is so important to this area? Why spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to remove it when it isn’t hurting anything where it is? The monument should remain standing right where it’s at today.

TAYLOR HARRIS can be contacted by email at samuel15harris@icloud.com.