Numbers favor keeping statue
Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
The article on the public hearing for the Isle of Wight monument to Confederate dead (“Monument hearing draws crowd,” Sept. 9) contained incomplete information.
I have never done Facebook; I send emails. I am not in the Sons of Confederate Veterans camp mentioned in the article. What someone put on Facebook I have no control over. Emails may have been partially posted or omitted. I am sure this was inadvertent; they may not have received all emails.
I originally sent the email with the instructions mentioned, but within a few days realized my mistake and sent one clarifying that names and addresses should be included. I do believe that non-residents whose ancestors fought and died in Isle of Wight Units have an interest in our monument.
It seems odd to me that the newspaper monitored the Facebook activity of a non-county SCV camp but not the Facebook activity of the primary county organization that wants the monument removed and whose vice president is on the Board of Supervisors, the NAACP.
Its Facebook postings encouraged attendance to the public hearing and to send comments to the members of the Board of Supervisors and included the Boards addresses, none of which state you should be a county resident to comment or to give your address. One post subsequent to the meeting read, “We want to especially thank … citizens, family and friends from neighboring communities who were brave enough to speak publicly.” Several who spoke in opposition to the monument identified themselves as Surry residents.
I am not stating that the NAACP did anything wrong. Nothing stated that “only county residents” could or should comment. I do question the newspaper only seeming to investigate one side of the issue. If the reporter had contacted me, I could have clarified much.
- Newspaper poll: 79% in favor of leaving the monument in place.
- Public hearing: best available estimate, approximately 200 attended, approximately170 of those wore ” Save our Monument ” stickers — from what I observed, the great majority of them county residents.A few non-county residents with ancestors who fought in county units did attend the hearing. I know a large number of citizens who support the monument did not attend or send a comment because of political correctness fears. Emailed comments to be considered the same as in-person appearances were 109 — 94 supporting leaving the monument and 6 wanting it relocated.
- A handwritten petition with approximately 385 signatures of only county residents was turned in. Petitions mentioned in the newspaper having approximately 256 signatures each are Change.org petitions. After using that site for the first time, I found that petitions on this format are not credible. That’s why I never mentioned them.
I suggested a second monument be built to the 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops. Black soldiers from this county served in this unit. Apparently, I am the only citizen who knows about, has studied or remembers them. I have their personal information. This monument
could be placed in Monument Circle with the current monument. It would be one of a few to black soldiers. I would assist to build this monument.
I suggest that we build together instead of destroy for vengeance. Be proud of a joint accomplishment instead of hate separately. This issue is being used nationally to foster racism and division on all sides. This is not something where the current monument will be removed and the issue forgotten.
Editor’s note: The article in question did not tie the letter writer to the out-of-town Sons of Confederate veterans group. He was mentioned only as a petition organizer and as a commenter at the public hearing.