On the day Columbia County Republican voters went to the polls to offer their opinion on whether a local Confederate group should be allowed to place a marker on the grounds of the Judicial Center in Evans, commissioners were approving a location for the marker.
The marker - being placed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1914 of Evans - will sit in the planned Columbia County Memorial Gardens behind the new Justice Center and near the proposed library.
"We don't have anything to honor the veterans, those who returned to Columbia County to make it become what it is," said John Partridge, chairman of the monument committee for the camp.
The decision by commissioners on the location and the design of the monument ended months of discussion and disagreement between the county and SCV members.
The monument originally was proposed by the older SCV Camp 148, which is based in Augusta but has many Columbia Countians among its members - including its commander, Woody Highsmith.
But it was members of SCV Camp 1914 asking county commissioners for the monument last week.
"We're coming to you with a little more of a consensus-building attitude," Partridge said. "This monument would be the Confederate monument at the courthouse."
But commissioners wanted to make sure the monument was also Columbia County's monument.
"Nobody gets as excited about the battle flag as I do, but we represent all of the people of Columbia County," said Tom Mercer. "I would be shirking my duty if I allowed that battle flag on that monument, because somebody is going to come by and be offended."
Partridge said he understood, and agreed that the Confederate battle flag would be a dominant part of the monument.
"I don't want, after we've spent $20,000, to have somebody come by with a hammer, and chisel it (the flag) off," he said.
Columbia County has one of the highest rates of participation in the Civil War, with nearly a quarter of its free citizens enlisting as soldiers, Partridge said. Currently, soldiers who died are remembered on the monument inside the courthouse, and on a monument at Patriots Park that lists soldiers from Columbia County killed in all the nation's conflicts.
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