Citizens say Confederate monument should derail county relocation

Citizens say Confederate monument should derail county relocation

WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - A tall, granite obelisk – topped with a soldier and his rifle – towers over its neighbors near the corner of Hudson and Zion Streets in Winnsboro.

It's a monument, Lisa Brandenburg remembers from childhood.

"I grew up at the foot of that hill," she said.

It's dedicated to the Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War. Once located in the heart of Winnsboro, it was later moved to the historic town park where it now stands. That park is also home to a historic school that's now vacant, Mt. Zion Institute.

"I'm not saying this monument needs to be moved," Brandenburg clarified.

But Brandenburg's opinion will change if the county moves its offices to the nearby abandoned school. The county could be just weeks or months away from making that decision.

Brandenburg thinks it would be a bad decision if that happens and the monument remains.

"When you've known someone for years and the topic just happens to come up about the Confederate monument, you realize and you see the hurt and pain in their eyes, when they tell you, as a close friend, that, you know, they don't think that's a good idea. You realize that hurt is there and everyone doesn't view that monument the same way that I view the monument," she said. "Several have voiced their opinions, privately, that they, you know, wouldn't be comfortable coming to work at the county complex with a Confederate monument here, but they're in no position to say that to the powers that be."

Pelham Lyles runs the county museum, but she shared her opinions with WIS as someone with deep Fairfield County roots.

"I feel that it's the right place for it to be. I'm sorry if the participants who fought in that war fought against causes that we believe in now," she said. "I feel that monument should stand. It should not be decorated. It should not be celebrated as the meaning of anything, but it's history, and if we don't learn from the history of that period, if we don't study it and learn from it, then the same mistakes are going to be made, and let's look around nationally and see if it isn't already happening that way."

Lyles says the monument should be viewed in context:  as just one of a number of historical markers and memorials in that park.

"Are we going to destroy a statue of Buddha because we're Muslim?" she asked rhetorically and hypothetically. "Are we going to take down somebody's grave marker because we don't believe in it? It needs to stay."

After several people spoke against the monument during a council meeting Monday night, she believes there could be an ulterior motive.

"I'm afraid a lot of this is 'me-too-ism.' 'Let's get in the movies!'" she explained.

Meanwhile, town barber Clarence Pauling offered a concession.

"If that's all they have to hang on to, I say let them have it because we have something bigger," he said. "We have God."

County Administrator Jason Taylor said he is aware that some aren't comfortable with the monument, and it's something that will be considered if the county moves its offices to the Mt. Zion property.

Taylor said those details will have to be worked out later, but he said they might even consider putting up a Civil Rights monument to off-set the Confederate monument.

The county hopes to make a decision within the next month.

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