Historian says Confederate monuments have historical value, a decision to remove must be deliberate

While many people want Confederate monuments torn down or moved out of public view, historians argue that a sensitive conversation regarding their value needs to be made first.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Civil War ended Spring 1865, but here in the 21st century, the wounds are still open to some. The number of Confederate monuments around the country has become a rallying cry for change.   

"A lot of people have said you can't change history and in some ways that is true is and in some ways not," said Wayne Wood.

Dr. Wayne Wood is a Jacksonville historian. Recently, the city council president called for the removal of Confederate Monuments in public spaces.  Wood wants the city to have a meaningful conversation.

"These are real landmarks of our history," he said. "They are works of art and at the same time they're offensive to a large percentage of the population who lives here."

Confederate General Robert E Lee is quoted as saying: 

"I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

Perhaps he saw this day coming. A more plausible reason would be that right after the civil war monuments and statues became big business.

"There were more monuments to the civil war than any other war in our nation's history," said Wood.

The Confederate soldier statue in Hemming Park was unveiled in 1898.  The tribute to the women of the Confederacy in Confederate Park was dedicated in 1915.

And there are schools that bear the names of Confederacy: Robert E. Lee High School, J.E.B Stuart Middle, Jefferson Davis Middle and Kirby Smith Middle.

"Do we totally bleach our history of all those monuments or do we find a way to out in context that they can be interpreted and not use as a rallying cry for people to spew hate but a way to bring community together an understanding what our history is," Wood said.

As a historian, Wood tries to be objective in his thoughts. He hopes as the city council debates the future of the confederate monuments in Jacksonville that it will be thoughtful and deliberate.

"My thought is that at this time there should be no foregone conclusions," he said, "that we try to seek creative options on each of these monuments."

The confederate soldier statue in Hemming Plaza will become of focal point of discussion, it is the most visible.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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