More interest in Surry monument

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has expressed interest in taking Surry County’s Confederate monument, although it didn’t submit a formal proposal by the county’s Sept. 15 deadline.

According to Keven Walker, the foundation’s chief executive officer, Surry County recently reached out via phone to his organization, which maintains a national battlefield site roughly 200 miles from Surry, spanning eight counties in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Should the county agree to donate its monument to the foundation, it would be re-erected on a battlefield to mark troop positions during that battle.

The foundation, as a rule, won’t seek out monuments, Walker said, and relies upon localities reaching out.

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“There’s so many monuments out there and there’s so many interested parties, it’s one way for us to limit the amount of monument work we would be besieged with,” Walker said. “We’re not a monument organization; we’re not a Confederate memorial organization; our primary responsibility is the preservation of Civil War battlefields.”

But “if a locality decides it is no longer appropriate for a Confederate monument to stand in its public square,” and contacts the foundation about a monument that could be repurposed on a battlefield, “we’re more than willing to help out.”

“Surry County really struck us as trying to find a respectful and appropriate new location for their monument … We would be more than glad to work with them if they decided to continue that conversation,” Walker said.

Surry received only one formal proposal during its 30-day window for museums and organizations to express an interest in its monument. On Sept. 11, four days prior to the deadline, a Hampton Roads chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans offered to pay the county up to $3,000 to take ownership of the monument, which the group plans to re-erect on private property located off Mount Ivy Lane, a little over a mile from Chippokes Plantation State Park.

Per state law, Surry’s Board of Supervisors has the final say over what becomes of its monument, which, until August, stood outside the county’s courthouse for more than 100 years. On Aug. 13, the Board voted unanimously to remove the monument from courthouse grounds, and two days later, a crane showed up to haul it away to a location the county is not disclosing.

The monument depicts a Confederate soldier standing atop a stone base engraved with the Confederate battle flag and the inscription “Our heroes 1861-1865, to the Confederate soldiers of Surry County, that we through life may not forget to love the thin gray line, erected by the Confederate Memorial Association of Surry County A.D. 1909.”

The Board has yet to schedule a discussion of the monument’s final disposition.