Columbus monument to Confederate dead sparks discussion amid national conversation

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Memorials and monuments to the Confederacy have been coming down across the South as part of the call for social justice. Earlier this month one was removed in Birmingham.

There is a 19th century monument on Broadway that is a memorial to the Confederate war dead.

The monument has stood in this spot since May 6, 1879. That’s more than 140 years. It was erected by women who were literally daughters and wives of the Confederacy.

The monument dates back to the post Civil War-era.

Many Southern monuments depict soldiers. This one — standing 37 feet tall — is more in line with what you would see in a cemetery.

“The monument was put up by the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus and it was erected as a memorial to their loved ones,” said Jane Brady, executive director of the Historic Linwood Foundation. “The sons, the fathers, the brothers, the husbands who went off to fight,”

That was 15 years after the conclusion of the war and before many of the monuments that were put up in the early to mid-1900s.

In fact, some people believe it belongs in place like Linwood, the city’s original cemetery. A number of Confederate dead and veterans are buried there.

Robert Battle is one of those. He has been raising awareness on social media.

“With everything that’s going on, I felt it was important that somebody not of color bring up the issue and start the conversation about moving the monument,” Battle said “Not destroying it. But moving it to a more appropriate place.”

Brady does not want to see the marble and limestone monument that has been in place for 141 years moved.

“My perfect scenario is that it stay where it is,” Brady said. “If interpretive signage is put explaining the story or expanding on the history, Every story has two sides and I would like to see that, too, if it helps from keeping the monument vandalized.”

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson tells News 3 that the city’s Unity, Diversity and Prosperity Committee will take a look at the monument and what to do about it. The city committee will also work with the Historic Columbus Foundation.

“One piece of Historic Columbus’ mission is to educate the public about local and regional history,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday. “Within these important discussions, we are here to provide help in examining an expanded interpretation for these markers/monuments/sites where appropriate, assist in telling the full Columbus story in an inclusive way, and to encourage a comprehensive manner in which we develop new approaches.   There is no one size fits all and we look forward to working with the city and the community. “

Some of the language on the memorial appears to refer to the Lost Cause — a school of thought that holds the losing battle on the Civil War was a just and heroic one.

One inscription reads: “GATHER THE SACRED DUST, OF WARRIORS TRIED AND TRUE, WHO BORE THE FLAG OF OUR NATIONS TRUST, AND FELL IN THE CAUSE THO’ LOST, STILL JUST AND DIED FOR ME AND YOU,”

“I think Columbus is diverse and we should reflect that and be respectful to every person that lives here,” Battle said.

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