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'The preservation of liberty and freedom': Park honoring Confederate veterans opens in Jacksonville

The operators of the park see it as their duty to make sure "that the true history of the South is presented to future generations," according to the website.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new park honoring the over 15,000 soldiers involved in the Confederate war effort is now open in North Florida.

Kirby-Smith Confederate Park is located in Lincoln Villas in the Northeast Jacksonville area. The park is visible from the I-295 west beltway, and features Confederate flags, statuary and placards. 

The park's website claims that the Confederate flag in Kirby-Smith Confederate Park flies in honor of all Confederate soldiers. The owners of the park see it as their duty to "see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations," according to the website.

The park is run by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, specifically, Kirby-Smith Camp #1209, the self-proclaimed most active camp in the Sons of Confederate Veterans organizations. The property was donated by the family that owned the land to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

On its website, the camp describes itself as a strictly a patriotic, historical, educational, benevolent, non-political, and non-sectarian entity bound by its by-laws and governed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Constitution.

According to the Kirby-Smith Camp #1209's website, the organization believes that school books, movies, television programs and press falsely portray Southerners as rebels and traitors who fought to preserve slavery, misleading our children and millions of Americans ignorant of history. 

However, the Civil War, fought by between the Union in the North and Confederates in the South, did arise out of disputes over slavery and states' rights. 

"Since my family fought for the Confederacy, they thereby falsely malign my family and me," Kirby-Smith Camp #1209's website says.

The opening of the park comes amid a national cry for the removal of statues and symbols that celebrate the Confederacy, with many people saying that it promotes and honors a movement that revolved around slavery. 

Others say the removal of such statues and artifacts is erasing history.

RELATED: Jacksonville councilman comes up with comprehensive plan for removing Confederate monuments

Last month, the bill that would have led to the removal of the Women of the Confederacy monument in Springfield Park was withdrawn.

The motion passed by a 12-6 vote at a Jacksonville City Council meeting.

Two proposals to postpone the city council's vote to a later date also failed. The first vote to table the bill until March 2022 failed by a 3-15 margin. A second proposal to postpone the vote until May 2022 failed by a 6-12 margin.

The bill was expected to fail after several city council members publicly voted against it in committee meetings.

In response, City Councilman Matt Carlucci and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville called for the vote to be postponed until a later day.

The removal of the statue was estimated to be $1.3 million, according to the bill. However, Councilman Garrett Dennis proposed an amendment that would reduce the cost of removing it to $99,000. That amendment also failed.

Kirby-Smith Confederate Park is located at C63W+72 Lincoln Villas, Jacksonville, Florida. Click here for details. First Coast News has reached out to the Sons of the Confederates for a statement.

RELATED: Why Councilman Carlucci says its time to remove the Confederate monument in Springfield park

RELATED: First Coast News obtains emails, documents of proposed $1.3 million Confederate monument removal

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