Dismantling of Civil War monuments sparks discussion in Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Dismantling of Civil War monuments sparks discussion in Savannah

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The dismantling of Civil War monuments in New Orleans is sparking debate around the country over how we honor that war.

Could the issue make it to Savannah? The ties between the Hostess City and the Civil War run deep. General Sherman spent time here, sparing the city on his trek through the south.

It seems the discussion is about how we honor our history but also recognize the pain it represents to a lot of Americans. Some feel that discussion will heat up as time goes on.

It's one of the most recognizable monuments in Savannah. A confederate soldier is facing north atop the trees. He's standing over a grave for soldiers who died in the war.

"It shows the progression from where we are today back to what we were. You have to make sure the progression stays forward,” said Old Savannah Trolley tour guide Chris Oliver.

At least one person, though, doesn't see it that way.

"The Civil War to me, and people who look like me, represented a group of people who wanted to maintain slavery. I don't know any other way to put it so they went to war,” Pastor Matthew Southall Brown, Sr. said. 

Supporters of this monument said it tells an important story about Savannah.

But does it tell the whole story? Some feel that Civil War monuments like this detail only the stories of the Blue or the Gray but avoid the rolls of African-Americans.

"The full American story is a composite of various people in this country and all the stories must be told, must be understood,” said Dr. Jamal Toure.

"We must find a way to honor our history but be honest about the pain certain symbols can cause no matter how well we intended to honor a person,” said Pastor Ricky Temple.

Pastor Temple said recognizing that pain is invaluable going forward.

"There is pain, and if we ignore the pain part of it, I think that's unhelpful to either side,” said Pastor Temple.

There have not been any discussions to take down this monument. Brown thinks that conversation will grow.

Some who tell the story of Savannah say the destruction would be detrimental to our history.

"I think that would be a major part of the history of Savannah that would be totally lost and wiped out,” said Oliver.

That seems to be the central debate. Would the removal simply be an attempt to rewrite history, ignoring a divisive time in our past?

This is the only monument in Savannah for the Civil War. There are historical markers at several homes where Confederate generals lived. More recently, a marker was erected remembering a meeting in 1865 between General Sherman and 20 African-American pastors.

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