National News

Locals fear removal of Confederate monument on McDonough Square

Posted September 8

— As efforts to remove Confederate symbols from public property in many cities across the country have taken shape, some successfully, local Henry Countians urged the BOC members on Wednesday to leave the Confederate monument statue on the McDonough Square as is.

Erected in 1910 by funds raised through the Charles T. Zachry Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the monument is inscribed: "To our Confederate soldiers, those who fell in fiercest fighting and sleeping beneath the sod of every southern state, those who have passed away in the after years of peace, and whose ashes now hallow old Henry's hill sides, those who like a benediction, still limp in our midst. May God preserve forever in our hearts, their memory and in all minds, a knowledge of their motives and their cause."

Henry County resident Lonnie Campbell said the statue has never been an issue before, and that the statue should remain as a symbol of the mistakes made that resulted in the Civil War.

"None of us were there, none of us know the motives that the different individuals had," said Campbell. "We can only presume to know based on the accounts that have been passed down to us. One thing we do know is that it was a dark time in our history for everyone and lives were destroyed because of it. We should not let that mistake be repeated because of a 107 -year-old block of stone that stands as nothing more than a remembrance of people that died with the love of this community."

Carl Swensson, unincorporated Stockbridge resident, said those requesting its removal are trying to create a "path of divisiveness," adding that many communities are not following suit.

"We have a movement across the country right now to get rid of monuments, and all kinds of different statues, but there is a very small section of this country that is doing that," said Swensson. "We have to keep that in perspective and get past the divisive nature of party politics."

Another speaker, Bill Walters, referenced a Biblical passage, stating while the book says not to worship statues, statues and monuments are Biblically used as a memorial for remembrance.

"It is a witness to our community of the people that lived here before you and I, who died in battle. It doesn't mean anything else," said Walters, adding that it should be used as a tool to remind children of local history. "When kids go through that Square, tell them what happened. Don't remove that witness to our past, don't remove that memorial. It's there so that we'll never forget. It's there to honor the fallen in your community."

On the other end of the spectrum, Simeon Nunnally, a military veteran and president of the Young Democrats of Henry County, proposed that the BOC replace the statue with Thomas Macdonough, a United States Naval Officer during the War of 1812 for which the city of McDonough is named.

"I want to honor us being one nation, under God, indivisible. Not when we were divided in the country fighting against each other, fighting for slavery in the South," he said. "Let's honor veterans that fought to keep us together, not fought to keep us divided."

None of the commissioners responded to the comments made during Wednesday's meeting.

Since May, Henry County officials have been under scrutiny for the closure of the Nash Farm Battlefield museum. The Civil War museum shut down operations after a commissioner requested the removal of Confederate flags from the government-owned property.

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