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Monument Stirs Community Debate

The fight over where to rebuild a Confederate monument is dividing the small town of Reidsville, North Carolina. This monumental controversy, if you will, started on May 23 when a delivery van driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the Confederate Soldiers monument in the middle of downtown Reidsville. It had stood there for over a century. But through the years, the community has debated whether or not the monument sends the right message. Ira Tilley, the public relations director for a local advocacy group, is lobbying that the statue be reconstructed its original location. "To us, that monument represents the brave young men who went and fought. Of all races, of all people, who went and fought for their country," he says. The trouble is, the group that originally built the monument, the North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy, has decided to re-build it elsewhere - on land that they own overlooking Confederate graves in the local cemetery. Tilley thinks that they are trying to avoid controversy and that moving the monument slights the memory of the soldiers. "We cannot fall prey to political correctness," he says. "This has got to stop, or it will destroy our country." The president of the North Carolina United Daughters of the Confederacy says that the city never gave them the opportunity to rebuild the monument in its original location in downtown Reidsville. Local members of the Daughters of the Confederacy are disappointed with that. "It's been there a hundred years, and it's a landmark," says Samyria King, the Reidsville chapter president. "It shouldn't have to be moved. And the people of Reidsville and Rockingham County do not want it to be moved." In fact, Tilley's local advocacy group, the Historical Preservation Action Committee, has appealed to the Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Historical Commission. For now, the Reidsville Confederate Soldiers monument is set to be re-constructed by next August in the Greenview Cemetery. That's a little more than a mile from its original location.