Wednesday, April 4, 2012
WSJ Wednesdays - Moving of Confederate Statue Sparks Home Town Civil War
The city of Reidsville, N.C. is in the midst of a civil war over the downtown Confederate veterans moment. According to an article by Cameron McWhirter that appeared in the Tuesday, March 27, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the moment was destroyed last year when a driver struck it with his van. The marble statue of a Confederate soldier toppled over and broke into at least ten pieces, says McWhirter.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy, who owns the statue, plans to repair the base of the monument, replace the statute, and move the entire unit to a cemetery away from downtown. This has sparked controversy between those who want the statue restored to its original location and those in favor of the move. As one would expect, what the statue symbolizes is the core of the issue. Some feel the move is an attempt to "diminish the city's Confederate heritage." The mayor of Reidsville is quoted as saying, "Once it's down, I think it sends the wrong message to put it back up. I don't want industries that might want to move here to think this is a little town still fighting the Civil War." This seems to make sense, as according to the article, many local businesses have closed.
The man responsible for the damage to the statue was asked what should happen to it. He said, "That ought to be up to the people of Reidsville." This appears to be difficult considering the governing body is a mayor and city council. In our town, we have a Board of Selectmen, and everything is voted on at an annual Town Meeting. This gives the citizens greater control of how the town is run.
This article also made me think of something from my childhood that I hadn't considered in quite some time: the moving of MacArthur's Ball in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Lt. General Arthur MacArthur was a hero of the Civil War. Born in Chicopee, his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was four. You can read about his military contributions here. He is also the father of General Douglas MacArthur.
I can't seem to confirm when the monument erected to Lt. General Arthur MacArthur was moved, but I know it was in my lifetime. The card above shows MacArthur's Ball in its original location. Broadway, the street on which MacArthur lived is to the right, the Methodist church is in the background, and to the left of the church is East Street. I lived on East Main Street, which is a bit further east and runs almost parallel to Broadway and East Street. MacArthur's Ball now resides on Church Street, which is west of Broadway and runs parallel to it. I wonder if there was any controversy regarding its move.
What monuments have been erected in your city or town? Have any been moved from their original location? Was there controversy about the move?