Tri-county area dedicates Confederate monument
By Karen VoylesStaff writer
Sunday, April 25, 2010
TRENTON -- More than 100 people turned out Saturday afternoon for the dedication of the latest veterans' monument in the Gilchrist County Veterans' Park.
Members of John Hance Osteen Camp 770 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans hosted the dedication and unveiling ceremony for the Confederate monument. It was set in the park where monuments have been dedicated in recent years to veterans of the Operation Iraqi Freedom, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, and World War II.
"During the (Civil) War, there wasn't even a Gilchrist County -- it was still a part of Alachua County," said camp commander Clement Lindsey. "Alachua County has a Confederate monument outside the courthouse, but Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties didn't have one, so we added them to this monument."
Gilchrist County Veterans Services Officer Major Stroupe said the monuments each cost $6,000 to $18,000 a piece and are paid for through donations by individuals and organizations. In some cases, the donations go to the county's historical society while in other cases such as the Confederate monument, a single organization such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans will pick up the cost.
Stroupe said a World War I monument will probably be the next one added to the county's Veterans's Park, which is just south of the courthouse in Trenton.
In addition to work on the public monument, the local members of Sons of Confederate Veterans have also been working on more public recognition for Confederate veterans. Lindsey said a recent emphasis has been identifying and locating grave sites of Confederate veterans and making certain that those without markers identifying their military service receive such recognition. "When our camp was chartered about four years ago, we could only find 12 Confederate headstones," Lindsey said. "Now we have 33 with markers."
Nationwide, the organization claims 35,500 members and, according to its literature, is working to ensure "that the symbols of the Confederacy remain a part of cultural history."
Stroupe said that while all wars are filled with anguish and heartbreak, the war between Northern and Southern states had an extraordinary aspect. "What could be worse than going to war with yourself?" Stroupe asked. "This was something that our community and other places view as a part of our history, something that we can learn from."