County voices concerns over possible removal of Confederate monument

Confederate statue in front of the Circuit Court Building in Boydton.

The Confederate Monument that stands in Courthouse Square in Boydton was a hot topic during August’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The Board made a motion during the regular meeting and before public comments were heard to hold a public hearing on the matter in September. The public hearing will take place at the gymnasium of Park View High School on Tuesday, September 15 at 9:00a.m. The Board expects to see a large turnout for the hearing.

Public commenters that had gathered outside of the normal Board meeting place were informed of this decision as soon as it was made, but several concerned citizens decided to stay and speak to the Board at this month’s meeting.

Lewis Wells, a member of the American Legion Post 79 in South Hill, led the public comments. Wells, concerned with how this decision could lead to other monument being taken down in the near future asked of the Board, “Folks, where does it stop? Are we going to Richmond—to the Virginia War Memorial—and removing it, which is dedicated to all the soldiers that were concerned in World War I, World War II and other conflicts?

Are we going on to Washington and tearing down the Vietnam Memorial? Those people were recognized as soldiers who fought for their country in Vietnam. The protestors have already sprayed paint on a lot of it. What’s next?” We would like to note that the Virginia Vietnam War Memorial located in Richmond has not been vandalized in recent memory; however, pictures of vandalization that took place in 2016 have been circulating on social media websites in the past few months.

Mr. Charles Farrar was the first of the pair to speak, and brought up, “the presence and the location of the courthouse monument is inappropriately located because it does not convey equality for all because of what the Confederacy was fought over. I respect ancestors; as a former soldier—I respect soldiers; I respect the notion of heritage, but we can remember all of that and those entities and still have them placed appropriately.” He continued, “the grounds of the courthouse here in the center of town is not the proper place to remember the Confederate soldier and his endeavors. We don’t want that particular remembrance placed there because our courthouse is intended to serve as a place where equal justice is handed out to all of our citizens.”

Mike Shepherd was next to speak. Shepherd brought two Medal of Honor recipients from Mecklenburg County to the attention of the Board; “Sergeant Henry Johnson won the medal in the Indian Wars out in the west. Sergeant Earl Davis Gregory won his in the Meuse-Argonne toward the end of World War I. That’s phenomenal; to have a county as relatively small and primarily rural…have two winners of a medal of honor within a 40 year time span. I think these men should be memorialized in some fashion if it’s deemed by the Board and a general consensus of the public that that statue must come down, I think these would be two candidates to be memorialized in their place.”

Wallace Hudson similarly offered an alternative for the Board to consider in their deliberation: “My question to you all is if you would—instead of removing it—let the citizens of Mecklenburg County vote on it and referendum. It’s a very controversial issue, but let the citizens of this county make that decision. You all make decisions on a lot of different things and you probably consider this a matter that you can do anything you like to with it—I don’t say that callously—but this is a national issue.” While this alternative may interest some, the issue is far more complex than a simple yes-or-no vote could handle. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors are officials that have been elected by the county to handle just such issues by listening to the voices of the county before making a deliberation.

While there have been several alternatives to a public hearing voiced, none have come to fruition. The Board of Supervisors will move forth with the public hearing scheduled for September 15, and invites the public to attend so they may hear as many Mecklenburg County voices as possible regarding the courthouse statue