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Confederate monument officially returns to duty

REIDSVILLE, N.C. -- It was an event years in the making, but for the North Carolina chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, it probably felt more like a century.

That's because the organization dedicated the Reidsville Confederate Monument on Saturday afternoon, almost 104 years to the day of the original ceremony.
Now the monument has a new home in Greenview Cemetery and a new name -- Triumphant.

"It is our hope Triumphant will stand guard forever, protecting the graves of nearby soldiers and continue to serve as a reminder of the gallant men who left us with this rich sense of history and of valor, and with a renewed appreciation of our Confederate heritage," said Lois Marlow, the president of the state division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

More than 75 people attended the 30-minute ceremony.

The controversy of moving the statue from downtown Reidsville to the cemetery started with a 2011 car accident that toppled and broke the original Confederate soldier statue.

Officials from both the city of Reidsville and the state United Daughters of the Confederacy withstood ridicule and lawsuits surrounding the removal of the monument from a downtown intersection.

City residents endured divisiveness and national media attention following the controversy.

But finally, the soldier stands guard in the center of Greenview Cemetery looking over the graves of the buried Confederate soldiers and other residents who chose the location as their burial spot.

The monument was erected at the cemetery in December, but it wasn't dedicated until Saturday.

People dressed in Civil War period clothing. Not dressed for war, but dressed for a ceremony. Think gold ball gowns, gray dress coats and a nice top hat.

Then came the souvenirs. Reidsville resident J.P. Lester drove his work van into the cemetery. On one side of his van a sign offered Confederate monument T-shirts for $15, though he said he would give them away for free to anyone who wanted one.

"I've lived here since I was 3 years old," Lester said. "I wanted it back downtown."

That's not an uncommon feeling for locals.

Lester originally protested moving the monument from downtown. He said he never protests, but this cause was worth it.

But he attended Saturday to support the monument's dedication.

Across the back of the shirt, the words "PRIDE NOT PREJUDICE" surround a picture of the monument in front of the Confederate flag.

The ceremony had many flags. People came dressed adorned with the Confederate flag. People pledged allegiance to the U.S., North Carolina and Confederate flags.

"The original monument was dedicated in 1910 and stood for 101 years in honor of and as a tribute to Confederate soldiers from this area," Marlow said. "The ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy from the Reidsville chapter worked long hours in those early years to secure funds for the purchase of the original monument."

But the accident allowed for a redo. The UDC took the opportunity to make changes.

Instead of marble, the soldier is made of Georgia white granite, which withstands the elements better.

It's also a total Confederate soldier this time.

"Realizing the old one was a generic soldier wearing both Confederate and Union gear, a careful research was done and insurance money used to craft a 100 percent Confederate soldier," Marlow said.

The remodeled statue sits atop the original base.

Marlow said the monument's base bears the scars of "many accidents."

But Marlow said she hopes the monument brings healing to the community and reminds everyone of the UDC's original intent in building the statue.

After the ceremony ended with a bagpipe playing taps in the distance, UDC recording secretary Donna Snipes looked up at the monument.

"He's home, bless his heart."

@dbattaglianr

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