Confederate Soldier Stands His Ground
By: Danielle Battaglia
Published: August 14, 2011
Despite the Reidsville Confederate Monument officially departing his post on Scales Street, another soldier is taking his place and standing up for what he believes is right.
On Friday morning, Jamie Funkhouser, the confederate soldier who came to Reidsville in June to raise awareness for the city council meeting discussing the future of the monument, returned to bring awareness to the fact that the soldier will soon be moved.
The Reidsville Monument stood at the intersection of Scales Street and West Morehead Street for 101 years until Mark Anthony Vincent, of Greensboro, fell asleep behind the wheel of his car, knocking the statue off its pedestal and onto the hood of his car, shattering the statue.
According to a press release Tuesday afternoon, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Reidsville City Council agreed that replacing the monument on its pedestal would be a divisive factor in the community and it should be moved elsewhere.
According to Funkhouser, City Manager Michael Pearce came out first thing Friday morning and asked him to move from the traffic circle and to a different location such as the sidewalk. Funkhouser said that immediately following, he noticed that the security camera stopped rotating around the perimeter of the block, as it is suppose to, and pointed at him for the rest of the day. The security camera was focused on him while he said this.
Funkhouser said that Pearce told him that the bricks around the base of the monument were not considered a sidewalk but part of the intersection. Funkhouser was permitted to stand in the dirt around the base but if he didn’t Pearce would have him removed.
Reidsville police met around 11 a.m. to decide what to do about Funkhouser and determined he would be permitted to stay. Reidsville Police Chief Edd Hunt said that this was not about Funkhouser’s right to show his opinion, but a concern for his safety.
Hunt said the intersection has been the site of many car accidents and pointed out that there is evidence on the curb that trucks tend to graze the curb as they drive around the circle. The Reidsville Police Department wanted to prevent any harm from coming to Funkhouser.
According to Funkhouser, he was told to move to the sidewalk as to not stop traffic. He replied that he wanted to speak to an officer, he was on public property and no matter where he went in town it would be blocking traffic.
Funkhouser was not the only soldier to stand outside Friday. He was joined by fellow re-enactor Josh Austin.
“It saddens me that people don’t have any more knowledge of what actually happened than what they were told,” Austin said concerning his opinion on removing the statue due to an agreement between the city council and UDC that it would be a divisive factor in the community.
Austin was at the 100 year rededication ceremony a prior to the accident. Austin said that he and Funkhouser do reenactments because they are huge history buffs.
“I think they are going against the will of the people,” Funkhouser said.
Funkhouser said that there are many misconceptions with the press release stating the monument would be taken down. First, he said despite the fact the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) said that they did not want to be apart of a divisive source in the community, what isn’t said is that it is the UDC’s will that the soldier would remain on Scales.
Funkhouser also believes that it isn’t being clarified that the local chapter of the UDC has had no say in the matter. Everything has come from the state level, according to Funkhouser.
Funkhouser doesn’t believe moving it to another part of the city is right either.
“To put it in a museum or a cemetery, that’s a form of censorship,” Funkhouser said.
Funkhouser said this statue has the same right to be there as any other war soldier. He also said that this soldier is not a race issue because all races fought under the confederate flag and people of all races have come and supported him Friday morning.
“If they remove this monument, it won’t keep me from coming back,” Funkhouser said. “I will come back here for years and be the Confederate soldier watching over Reidsville.”
The UDC is waiting word from the Vincent’s insurance company before deciding what to do with the monument.
Vincent has a court date for charges of failing to maintain proper lane set for 8:30, Wednesday morning at the Rockingham County Courthouse.