And now for something completely different: A Southern town that loves Confederate memorials so much it took Louisville’s towering controversy and proudly plopped it down smack dab on its own riverfront.
“Anybody else who wants to throw out their statues,” said Diane Reichle of Brandenberg, Kentucky, “we’ll take those, too. I hope we get all of them.”
Stolid, silent statues have become hot items in recent days, as in hot potato, especially when they involve anything to do with the losing side of the Civil War or the War Between the States. Mobs have torn one down, defaced many others and rioted around another. Some might suspect the fighting had less to do with historical principle and more to do with the TV cameras capturing the mayhem.
And, of course, President Trump had to wade in, saying the country’s history was being “ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”
The debate has tapped into strong national emotions involving race and how far Political Correctness has gone and should go. The controversy now rages as far away as Los Angeles where black University of Southern California students protested the name of the school’s mascot, a majestic Arabian horse named Traveler. He’s white. It seems Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s horse had a similar name, though he used two l’s–Traveller.
And the people of Brandenberg decided to take a stand. Local h
Yes, Kentucky was a slave state, but it was initially neutral in the war before joining the Union. In fact, Brandenberg has numerous other statues honoring the Civil War, Native Americans and the Underground Railroad that smuggled runaway slaves to the North. The town wouldn’t mind if its statues became something of a tourist attraction.
The new, old monument is a 100-ton, 70-foot-tall granite edifice paid for in 1895 by a group of Louisville Confederate widows and wives. It’s a tribute to Southern soldiers and now stands proudly 43 miles from its original home on a hill overlooking the Ohio River — and just in case, monitored by security cameras and floodlights.
“If you’re offended,” said one resident, Johnnie Hayes, “don’t go look at it. I didn’t like President Obama, but I didn’t go out and riot and protest.” In Brandenberg, that sort of sense seems kind of common.