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Keeping Franklin together in these uncertain times

By Tim Bradshaw

In the 13 years I’ve lived here the Statue of the Confederate Soldier on Clay Street has never been brought up as an issue until now.

As chairman of the Franklin-Southampton Republican Party, representing the Republican Party which freed the slaves and brought equal rights to all Americans who were created equal by God, I agree that the Confederate Battle Flag should be removed from the monument because of what it represents to some (if not a majority) of the residents of the City of Franklin and because of the fact that it was the Republican Party, under the leadership of President Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves and won the war to reunite the Union under one flag — that star spangled banner of the United States of America.

I am not so sure, however, that I could condone the removal of a historical monument that honors the men, black and white, who sacrificed their lives to defend their homes and our great Commonwealth of Virginia. The monument itself does not represent slavery nor oppression. Rather, it honors the memory of the fallen soldiers who sacrificed all.

During the Battle of Franklin there were no Confederate troops to aid in our defense. It was local unorganized militia — black and white men together, free men and slaves volunteering to stand side by side — who repelled the Union assault.

To me, this fear mongering over the monument appears to be just another tactic in an attempt to divide our peaceful city and erase our history. This is part of a greater agenda driven by power and greed which is employing fear to drive a wedge into our society.

In a time of divisiveness we as citizens of Franklin must stand together united. This should be well debated and the consequences, including both social and fiscal, must be considered.

To my fellow citizens reading this I urge you to not be led by fear nor hype. There is always a third way, a way out where we can all come together as friends and neighbors, as brothers and sisters, regardless of race, color, creed, gender or national origin. Removing the Confederate Battle Flag and replacing it with the Flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, would be such a way.

Erecting another monument to honor the Buffalo Soldiers or to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could be other options.

It is not the “Statue of the Slave Owners and Oppressors” nor is it the “Statue of Southern Aristocratic Leaders.” It is the “Statue of the Confederate Soldier.” Hundreds of thousands died during the American Civil War. Should we so hastily dishonor their memory and erase what traces are left of their existence?

The soldiers were defending their homes and their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. they fought valiantly to defend their neighbors. The monument has nothing to do with slavery. However, I do agree that the symbol commonly mistaken as the Confederate Battle Flag certainly is seen as representing oppression and should be changed or removed out of respect to those whom feel hurt by its presence.

Furthermore, I believe it is critical that history should be preserved so it is not repeated. However, it is up to the citizens of Franklin to make the determination of whether or not to remove, relocate or alter this monument — not mob rule nor keyboard warriors on Facebook.

If you are a citizen of Franklin, make sure you come to the Aug. 24 public hearing so your voice can be heard!

The political party I represent is and always has been the champion for equality and civil rights. We are the party that defeated the Confederacy and freed the slaves after all. The same party that marched for civil rights. The same party that has started to reform the broken criminal justice system under the current administration. The same party that today fights to defend traditional American values. The party that still believes the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land with the purpose of protecting the inalienable rights of “We the People” from tyrannical and authoritarian governments.

We have to find ways to keep the Union together — and to do this we must keep our community together.

Are you a citizen in Franklin, Virginia? I would like to hear what you feel is the best solution. I hope you will come to the Public Hearing at City Hall on Aug. 24. It’s up to “We the People” to decide. I’m sure the City Council will make the right choice based on what the people want.

Franklin-Southampton Republican Party Chairman TIM BRADSHAW and the local GOP can be contacted via fb.me/fsgop.