Local war museum discusses Confederate monument history, removal

We have seen two protests in Hampton Roads, with demonstrators calling for the removal of the statues. While some people want the monuments moved to cemeteries, others say the right place for the monuments is a museum.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va (WVEC) -- After clashes in Charlottesville, the debate over Confederate monuments in Virginia is heating up and Hampton Roads is no exception.

This week, protests have broken out in Norfolk and Portsmouth in demand that the monuments be removed.

In response, some city leaders called for monuments to be moved to museums or cemeteries.

"We've never really faced an issue like this,” said Jerry Coggeshall, Registrar at the Virginia War Museum. “I know our museum, we don't really have a lot of room."

Coggeshall offered his insight on why Confederate statues are dedicated to soldiers in Hampton Roads.

"I think a lot of the monuments that went up for units were men trying to have somewhere they could go almost like we do with the Vietnam memorial,” said Coggeshall. “They weep and it helps them have some closure.”

Across the state, many protesters say the monuments are a reminder of slavery and racism.

Many people outraged that confederate leader Robert E. Lee, whose family held slaves, is being memorialized.

"I would say even if the South won the war, [Lee] would not want monuments in his honor,” said Coggeshall "If you read Lee's correspondence through the war, his true passion was for the average enlisted man.”

Coggeshall said the issues of moving statues should be left to politicians.

He said right now, the controversy highlights the need for education by reading and researching authors.

"One thing that gets lost in the controversy is and this is one thing we talk a lot about here at the museum is the horror of war," said Coggeshall.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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