Letter: No to Rawls demand to “remove them now”

Theresa Hartley
St Augustine, FL

I am appalled that any elected official in St Johns County would entertain for a second Rev Ron Rawls proposal for removing the Confederate monuments in the Plaza, and his three-word demand to “Remove them now”.

Rev Rawls has also suggested that we “redefine St Augustine” and that the monuments honoring soldiers slain during the Civil War were “intimidating”.

I suggest that Rev Rawls has no right to “redefine St Augustine” and if he feels intimidated by these monuments, perhaps he shouldn’t frequent the Plaza.

Personally, if I am truly offended by something, it would be insane to ask the City of St Augustine to ban it, move it, or destroy it, with everyone’s tax dollars. I think I would try to not be so offended and get over it.

First, why all the hurry? Did Rev Rawls give a reason why, after a century or more in the Plaza, the monuments must be removed now? Is that a veiled threat if his proposal isn’t carried out?

I can come up with many reasons why we should NOT remove the monuments, but one reason is this: the thousands of dollars the City would have to spend to move the monuments. Why now when our streets in the city flood after every heavy rain, our traffic congestion problems, and our older bridges needing maintenance — and the many other more productive uses of our tax dollars.

Removing the memorials from the Plaza would possibly endanger these monuments, not to mention the desecration of Confederate Gen. William Loring’s ashes buried beneath one of the monuments.

The most glaring reason not to remove the monuments is that St Augustine is a Southern City. Part of St. Augustine’s charm is our Southern ways, which attracts many dollars to our coffers thru tourism. Take away everything that is Southern (you can’t just dismiss the Civil War, Florida’s part in the war, and the Confederate soldiers brave battle at Olustee) and you will “redefine” St Augustine and watch as tourism drops…

If you continue to entertain Rev Rawls’ proposal, I would not accept anything less than a poll of the voters. We, the people, taxpayers, and voters, have the right to decide the fate of two monuments dedicated to the Southern pride that these men died for.

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