Hillsborough commissioners divided on removal of Confederate memorial in Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Confederate Soldier’s Monument outside of the Hillsborough County Courthouse has stood silent guard since 1911.   

It was given to Tampa by the Daughters of the Confederacy in an unveiling that attracted more than 5,000 men, women and children to the city, according to newspaper accounts.

But now more than a century has passed, and Confederate statutes have toppled across the South, from Virginia to New Orleans and Orlando, in a growing movement to take down memorials that honor the Confederacy or Confederate figures.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller is leading the charge to remove the Confederate Soldier’s Monument in Tampa, and called on his fellow commissioners to take action.

On Wednesday, a number of people came before the commission to say they want the memorial to stay exactly where it is.

Some in the audience donned Confederate flags as they spoke, like Donny McCurry whose relatives fought for the Confederacy.

“These lost souls are our family. An attack on our heritage is a direct attack on my grandfathers,” said McCurry.

David McCallister with the Sons of Confederate Veterans told commissioners his group put out a survey that shows a majority of registered voters in the county want to keep the memorial.

“It found out that there were 77 percent  (of voters) in favor of keeping this monument right where it is,” said McCallister. He believes the memorial honors veterans.

The monument consists of a tall obelisk with two soldiers.  McCallister points out, the soldier facing north is in a clean and crisp uniform to represent those who went off to fight in the war. The soldier facing south has a torn uniform and wounds to represent those who sacrificed during the war.

“I think Hillsborough Community understands that this is a monument to veterans and it’s a monument to the local men that were casualties and for the families that sacrificed for them at the time,” said McCallister.

Commissioner Miller says he plans to contact the Daughters of the Confederacy to see if they would like to take the memorial back.

If the group can’t afford to have the memorial removed, Miller says he plans to ask the Tampa Bay History Center if they will take the monument.

County Commissioner Stacy White is among those who believe the memorial should stay where it is.

“Well, that is a piece of Florida’s and Hillsborough County’s history and heritage and you can not erase history. I think we are on a real slippery slope here and we have to draw the line in the sand somewhere. There was great reconciliation after the Civil War, I mean Memorial Day came out of that, both sides came together and they acknowledged the valor on the battlefield from both sides, I thought we had already healed those wounds, but here we are dealing with them again, but I just want to stress that statue is an important part of our history. We are on an incredibly slippery slope if we are seeking to erase history,” said White.

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