Confederate monument sits in Williamsburg park

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

With a renewed debate swirling around the South about Confederate monuments and their place in society, a single monument honoring Confederate soldiers sits in the city's Bicentennial Park.

The more than 20-foot-tall monument is adorned with Confederate flags and was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and the "citizens of Williamsburg and James City County." Built in 1908, it originally sat in Colonial Williamsburg's Palace Green, but now sits in the park off Court Street.

A violent protest in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 — involving white supremacists' chagrin at the city's plan to remove a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee and counter-protestors — has renewed calls for locales around the nation to reexamine the Confederate monuments.

Williamsburg communications specialist Lee Ann Hartmann said the monument is in an out-of-the-way location. "I doubt people even remember it."

Williamsburg Councilman Benny Zhang said conversations about the Williamsburg monument are premature because the state does not give localities the power to destroy war monuments, including those commemorating the Civil War.

In a letter to Charlottesville city representatives, mayor Paul Freiling acknowledged the issue tied to the protests are very ingrained in current social culture.

"As much as we sympathize with you, we understand that we cannot look at this as an isolated incident; rather, it is symptomatic of an insidious infection," he wrote. "Healing one wound will not cure the disease."

"The hatred and violence being perpetrated in Charlottesville are abhorrent and un-American. White supremacy, racism and bigotry have no place in our society," he said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has encouraged Virginia's local governments to place the public monuments in museums.

"As we attempt to heal and learn from the tragic events in Charlottesville, I encourage Virginia's localities and the General Assembly – which are vested with the legal authority – to take down these monuments and relocate them to museums or more appropriate settings," said McAuliffe. "I hope we can all now agree that these symbols are a barrier to progress, inclusion and equality in Virginia and, while the decision may not be mine to make, I believe the path forward is clear."

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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