Group gathers to pray for unity at ‘Fame’ monument

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2019

By Andie Foley

SALISBURY — On the 110th anniversary of the dedication of the monument “Fame,” a small crowd gathered Friday on the steps of the Rowan County Administration Building.

The group, organized by Pray Rowan President Tonya Skelly, came together for a late-afternoon hour of remembrance:

“(This statue) asks us to remember the cause … and the cost of … war,” Skelly said. “It asks us to remember what war does to our homes, our family, our friends and our nation.”

“Fame,” which sits on land owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at West Innes and Church streets, was dedicated on May 10, 1909, to the 2,500 Rowan County soldiers who fought for the Confederacy.

The statue has been the center of recent controversy, polarizing the Rowan County community after vandals splattered paint on it in August and in March.

Some called for the statue’s removal because of its tie to the Confederacy. But others — like a number of those assembled Friday — see the statue as more than a representation of past hurt, devastation and division.

“It’s a part of our home. It’s a part of our community,” said Skelly. “The bronze statue with a pink granite base asks us to harken back to a time when war divided this country. It asks us to honor the young men who fought and died.”

Skelly said “Fame” could provide a valuable lesson for the community. It and similar landmarks could be used as tools to teach “our children and our grandchildren about a time in our nation of which we may not be proud but we must never forget,” she said.

“We can never erase the past, but we do not have to repeat it either,” she said.

The group of 15 gathered Friday to pray for unity across Salisbury and Rowan County, each agreeing it is hard to be angry at one another when praying together.

“The problem is, when we have these conversations, we’re not listening,” said PJ Ricks. “If I take time at least to listen to what you’re saying before I talk and then I think about it, maybe we’ll all be better on the other side.”

And better understanding could even come if two polarized sides of Rowan County “agreed to disagree,” Ricks said.

“There is anger here regarding more than just removing a statue,” said Erica VeDeikis. “There is a racial divide that we may not understand. … Instead of arguing against each other, let’s have a conversation.”