Letter: Monuments propelled my love of American history


Matthew Lempke
Orange Park, FL

Dear Historic City News editor:

My roots in the St. Augustine area run deep. I am directly descended from the Pons-Ponce family, am an avid lover of history, and just completed my Master of Arts degree in history from Virginia Commonwealth University.

After watching the news story on Channel 4 in Jacksonville, I wanted to reach out to the City in a level-headed, rational way regarding the importance of keeping historical monuments in St. Augustine.

My third great-grandfather’s name, Thomas D. Ponce, is on the Ladies Memorial Association monument honoring men who died serving the Confederate state. Some in the community say the obelisk should go because of the tragic violence in Charlottesville.

Thomas D. Ponce never made it home. He died of camp fever in a Mobile, Alabama hospital in 1862. He was away from his family and without a burial. The monument to the Confederate war dead is not just a statue, but a headstone for the men who gave their lives for their country, at that time.

This monument, along with many other historical sites in town, helped propel my love of American history, inspiring me to eventually obtain my graduate degree in that field.

I humbly ask that you consider the magnitude of what statues and monuments mean to average, decent citizens who love their country and respect their history.

Let us know what you think >>