Editor: This is how I would propose the Board of Supervisors could address the issue of the statue at the courthouse. If they did this, perhaps it could make national news and provide insight to other cities looking at this issue.
On the statue itself, grind off any CSA references, say, if there are any “CSA” letters on a cap or belt buckle or maybe an embedded stars and bars flag. I don’t know if there are any.
Remove any plaques, or prepare to cover over any existing lettering on the base. At this point the statue is neither a southern nor a northern soldier. It is just a Civil War soldier.
Put out in front of the statue a prominent sign that says “A civil war soldier. Come read my story.”
Prepare a new plaque to take the place of the old one or cover over any existing lettering on the base. The new plaque would say, something like:
“I was a soldier in the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865. Over 600,000 soldiers from the northern and southern states died during this war. Another over 400,000 were wounded. Terrible destruction occurred in bombed and burned-to-the-ground cities, houses and farms. But this was a war that had to be fought by one American against another and had to be of terrible magnitude.
When the last state ratified the Constitution in 1789, two major issues were not settled. One was the right of each state’s sovereignty versus that of the newly formed federal government and the other, the continuance of slavery.
After years of failing to settle these issues in Congress, it sadly became clear that the only way they could be settled once and forever was if a terrible war would be fought of such staggering losses that these two issues would be settled and never raised again. I might have been Billy Yank or I might have been Johnny Reb. I fought in bitter cold with poor provisions. I often had nothing or very little to eat or drink. My uniform was often nothing but tatters. I followed orders, I tried to be a good soldier. I helped bury countless friends.”
More soldiers were killed in the Civil War than in all other wars in which Americans soldiers fought, combined. This statue of a Civil War soldier stands as a testament to mistakes that were made by Americans in centuries gone by and to the terrible costs that were paid to correct these mistakes, by the blood of soldiers and property destroyed.
America can proudly embrace its mistakes, it need not hide from them nor try to cover over them
America is the greatest nation on earth, made so in part because of the mistakes it made and the way it corrected them. We can learn from our mistakes, we need not hide from them, for this takes true courage.
Jim Overson, Leesburg