This week Historic City News learned that a sixty-second radio spot began airing on local radio station WSOS announcing to “Menorcans, veterans, and proud residents of St Augustine” that City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline is wavering in her support for veterans of all wars.
Television spots are now appearing with the same message and a satirical comic-strip character representing the commissioner digging up the memorial with a shovel.
In October of 2017, threatened with impending civil unrest and disruption, members of the commission voted unanimously to preserve the nearly 150-year-old memorial that has stood peacefully across from a memorial to veterans of both World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, as well as battles in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Along the sidewalk is a multi-faced statue honoring the “foot soldiers” of the Civil Rights movement.
The narrator of the radio and television advertisements proclaims, “Here in St Augustine we memorialize our fallen heroes for eternity … not just when its politically expedient.” Listeners are asked to “please contact your city commissioners — especially commissioner Sikes-Kline” once again to show support for the decision that reached over a year ago.
Sikes-Kline, who once reported that she is a relative of “John Stevens” whose name appears on the memorial, took a moment to announce at the close of the last city commission meeting, Monday April 8, 2019, that she has “seen and heard enough” from unnamed protestors to make her reconsider her prior vote in support of her own family and the remaining 43 veterans named on the memorial.
Remember the forty-four:
Peter Masters, John M Llambias, Antonio Mickler, Jacob Mickler, Joseph Noda, Eusebio Pacetti, Frank Papy, Marine Papy, Edward Papy, Bartolo Pinkham, Nathaniel Powers, John Ponce, Thomas Ponce, R Jenckes Reid, Richard Russell, Felix Rante, Henry Bryan, Samuel Buffington, Napiano Capalla, Gaspar Capparas, John Stevens, Hanaro Triay, James Walton, Frank W Weems, J Westcott Willard, Archibald Gould, Joseph Andreu, Francis Baya, Casmiro Benet, Henry Bridier, Louis Bridier, James Hanson, William J Hardee, James Hurlburt, Edward C Humphries, Jose Irwin, R Francis Dancy, Henry G Dunham, Abraham Dupont, Andrew Floyd, Phillip Gomez, Antonio Lopez, Alfonse Lopez, William Dupont
Constructed in 1872 with private donations from the community, the cenotaph memorializing the names of forty-four local soldiers was relocated to the Plaza de la Constitucion in 1879. That year, members of the Ladies Memorial Association petitioned the Street and Lane Committee of the City, accompanied by 10-pages of signatures of residents who supported the placement of the memorial on the permanent site where it stands today.
The radio and television call to action, “paid for by the family and friends of the war veterans listed on our memorial”, is also asking that citizens appear before the commission at their next meeting on Monday, April 22nd, to express their disapproval of Sikes-Kline’s plans, and also to voice support for retaining the Ladies Memorial Association obelisk exactly where it is.
What remains to be seen is how members of “the silent majority” will react to the ten or so speakers at the last meeting who bemoaned that this memorial is reminiscent of the days of slavery and is intended to somehow continue the lost cause of the US Civil War. There are no such indicia contained on the plaques of this memorial.
City Hall will be closed this week for Good Friday. If you plan to attend the regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, it will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Alcazar Room of City Hall, located at 75 King Street, downstairs off the courtyard. Historic City News readers are advised to arrive early to get an inside seat, and to complete a “Speaker Card” at the entrance to the meeting room, turning it in to the City Clerk. Public comments are heard at the beginning of the meeting, following the invocation and pledge of allegiance to the flag.