Letter: The Holy Week War in St Augustine

Walter Bryan “Mike” Hill
Florida House of Representatives, District 1
Tallahassee, FL

Dear Historic City News editor:

We all breathed a sigh of relief when arson was not the cause of the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire in Paris, but we gasped in horror as Christians were firebombed at Churches on Easter day in Sri Lanka.  

But on American soil, the latest battle for the heart and soul in America and our Judeo-Christian values is being waged in St Augustine, Florida.  Known as being one of the oldest cities in America, it is a town that prides itself on its history.  Until now.

As I write this, the City is implementing an evil plan that would denigrate the honorable service of 44 citizen soldiers from the town that left hearth and home and took up the life of a soldier to defend their homes and families.  They answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price.

Twenty-years later, the ladies of the town erected a memorial – a Cenotaph to them – like many around Florida and our nation.  But under pressure from the radical left including Anti-Fa, Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panther Party to take down the memorial altogether, the City capitulated and agreed to install “contextualization” plaques that brand the memorial to these men a monument to “white supremacy”. How insulting!

The lie and deceit the City intends to perpetrate on these men and their families is immense, but one ironic point jumps out for me.  The names of the 44 dead aren’t white names.  They are brown.

Yes, a few names like “Walton” and “Stevens” are intermingled with “Triay”, “Lopez”, “Pacetti” and “Gomez”, but the majority are of Hispanic ancestry, appropriate for a town founded by Spanish explorers.

Not all the sitting commissioners voted for this, but they all have the power to reverse it.  They made a bad bargain, for the out-of-town agitators have not relented, despite their misguided “peace offering” in an attempt to compromise. 

I have visited St. Augustine and know that the people do not want this, but those trusted with the memory of their town’s veterans and their history have sold the valor of those who died for the City in hopes of obtaining ‘peace’ from the relentless economic attack on the city through disruption of public areas.  

The Florida Legislature has the opportunity to settle this.  They can do the right and just thing and put a hedge around this cenotaph that will put a “do not disturb” sign out for all to see. 

Florida doesn’t disrespect its veterans…ANY of them.  I sponsored a bill in the House, (House Bill 97) the Soldiers and Heroes Monuments & Memorials Protection Bill that would do just that.  

There can be no compromise in a war.  The enemies of America are licking their chops as another thread in the fabric of our great nation is unraveled.  The National Anthem, Kate Smith, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson.  It all must go in their war on America.

Until the bill is passed, cities and counties will be held hostage to the radical left who seek to destroy America and disrespect our heritage, our history and our veterans.