Supervisors made right call on statue

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Isle of Wight County supervisors, with their decision last month to remove a Confederate monument from county property, reminded us of the value of our constitutional republic, in which we elect representatives to carefully consider difficult questions and do what they believe to be right for the community they serve.

If the objective were entirely the elusive “will of the people,” we’d need no representatives at all. Governance would be conducted entirely by citizen referendum, which, in the case of the memorial to Confederate dead, would likely have kept it firmly planted in front of the old courthouse.

Isle of Wight’s supervisors, to their credit, considered the good of the entire community and made a decision that was inevitable. Controversy over the monument wasn’t going away, as our nation continues to grapple with questions of race some 150 years after the Civil War and the end of slavery.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I don’t want any citizen that I represent to be offended, particularly by items that sit on their property,” said Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree, referring to the monument’s current location on taxpayer-funded, publicly owned land. “Quite honestly, being born and raised here, I have to confess I never paid much attention to the monument, but it’s been interesting during this course. It’s definitely allowed me to reflect on, just, different parts of it.”

Recent changes to state law permit localities like Isle of Wight and Surry to remove, relocate, cover or contextualize any Confederate monuments they own.

Isle of Wight supervisors made the right call, just as neighboring Surry’s supervisors did last year.

The Isle of Wight monument will be preserved, possibly on private property in the southern part of the county. That’s appropriate, with monument supporters able to ensure its preservation in perpetuity.

The people’s property, however, will be free of a symbol that divided our community, and would have continued to do so.