A tribute to history for some can be a bitter reminder of pain for others. An Appling County group that honors their civil war ancestors wants to put a monument in the middle of town.

Check out courthouse squares around the South and you’ll probably see a similar theme of monuments; a lone confederate soldier facing his homeland. A proposed monument in Baxley has some ready for a political battle. Leaders of the local NAACP chapter say the idea caught them by surprise.

"A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a concerned citizen that this was taking place," explained NAACP chapter president Gerry Moore.

Moore and others confronted county commissioners Tuesday night. In 2001, previous commissioners tentatively approved space on the square for a privately funded statue paid for by the local Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Appling Grays. Moore says the symbolic statue would offend African Americans.

"I’d feel awkward with a confederate statue on the courthouse lawn. A courthouse is designed for justice and for peace," he noted.

Local NAACP leaders say they’re not completely opposed to the statue. But they say it belongs at a museum like the Appling County Heritage Center just a block from the courthouse.

"History has its place. We should never forget where we come from. But that’s not the place for it, not where people see it out front when they ride through our community," stated chapter vice president Larry NeSmith.

Both men say their group’s state and national leaders will watch closely to see if commissioners allow the statue or send it somewhere else.

WTOC tried to reach leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter that planned the monument and did not hear back from them. Moore says his group will be at the next Appling County commissioners meeting in two weeks to see what, if any action, they take.

Reported by Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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