Confederate statues: Monuments to what? What heritage?

We often hear those who want to keep statues and monuments to the confederacy claim that they represent Southern heritage. What, exactly, is that heritage? Slavery? Racism? The actions of traitors against our country?
The "confederate" statue on the Courthouse lawn in Floyd. What, exactly, is it a monument to? (Photo by Doug Thompson)

Even though statues and monuments to a lost cause known as the Confederacy during the Civil War have fallen in the last month or so, more than 775 of them remain scattered across the South and reach as far west as Arizona and California.

One of those statues stands on the lawn of Floyd County’s Courthouse — a generic one belched out by a factory seeing a chance for profit and an effort by the Daughters of the Confederacy to put identical ones in rural towns. However, statues made by the same company that supposedly honors those who fought for the Union, have the same face.

Floyd’s statue shares no real information about the county’s involvement in the effort to dismantle the then young government called the United States of America. No counts on how many might have served or died. No one really seems to know how many Floyd Countians fought in that war. Some historians say more from Floyd served in the Union Army, not the ragtag band of Confederates.

Vote counts in the 1860 presidential election show the county split by support for the Union and Confederate candidates. The spread between the Union candidate and Democratic one (the one supporting secession) was just 16 votes.

Some news reports from the period say more Floyd Counties deserted the Confederate armies and hid out from agents seeking their arrest and return to fight. In the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861, Hervey Deskins, the delegate from Floyd County, voted against separation from the Union.

It makes one wonder if the number of pickups flying Confederate flags these days outnumber the ones who actually fought for the South and lost.

During a rally that brought more than 200 peaceful protestors to the front of the Courthouse recently to support Black Lives Matter, protest the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis and circulate petitons to take down the Confederate statue, some on social media claimed the crowd were “outsiders” who came into the county.

Really? Many of those who protested came from families who go back many generations in this county.

Roger Andrew Altizer, the Hanover County resident who paraded the flag of losers at a Floyd County rally. (Photo by Carolyn Reilly)

One, however, was an outsider: Roger Andrew Altizer Jr., who paraded around with a confederate flag, shouted insults and racial epithets and took off his shirt while challenging people to fight, was not a Floyd Countian but came into our area from Hanover County as an imported construction worker.

His actions in front of the Courthouse brought criminal charges of assault and disturbing the peace. Arrests by Floyd County deputies are not his first run-ins with the law. Back in his home county of Hanover, he faces a jury trial on felony discharge of a firearm from a car in what prosecutors say was road rage.

He also faces court in August on two charges of brandishing a weapon. Let’s don’t forget the conviction in 2011 for the unauthorized distribution of drug paraphernalia.

Altizer’s actions at the rally were the only “incident” or arrest by law enforcement authorities. Our locals obeyed the law. An “outsider” did not.

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