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Editorial: Talk long past due on monument

The call has gone out for a community discussion about the Confederate monument and what it symbolizes and means to Salisburians — all Salisburians. Yes, that conversation is long past due, and the time has come for an honest, civil dialogue that also must strive toward bringing the community together.

The 106-year-old monument actually could be the catalyst for progress in race relations, but only if those who participate face a lot of hard truths and are open to different views and opinions.

A group of citizens attended Salisbury City Council’s meeting Tuesday to make the city’s leaders aware they want this kind of discussion to take place. The ironic thing is they weren’t allowed to speak, because of the council’s policy to allow public comment only at its second meeting of the month.

Council members serving as facilitators for a discussion on the monument will create an interesting scenario to watch. It’s a great opportunity to show leadership, but you wonder whether behind the scenes they are looking for a way out.

They could easily end up saying citizens with concerns about the monument should take them up with its owner, the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter. And they could stand by a 1908 resolution, recorded in the Register of Deeds office, which gave the UDC the right to the statue’s Innes Street-Church Street location in perpetuity.

But the thing that makes the “Gloria Victis” of “Fame” monument something city leaders cannot shy away from is its quite public location. It’s in the city’s front yard, like a political sign, and there needs to be a household discussion as to whether it’s appropriate or cause for division.

Salisbury actually has three Civil War monuments dedicated to Union soldiers, but they are in not-so-public view within the Salisbury National Cemetery.

Any future community conversation about “Fame” should provide context to when it was erected and why, along with some context on what it means today. It will be a complicated exercise that cannot exclude the UDC. It also has to have parameters from the beginning.

Those who have great concerns about the monument and see it as divisive to the community have to go into the discussion open to the possibility that it stays where it is. Likewise, those who like the statue where it stands have to be open to its removal, relocation or rededication, if that’s where the dialogue ends up.

This talking thing won’t be easy, but it’s way better than silence.








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