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Martha’s Vineyard Confederate Statue Throws Shade On Obama’s Vacation

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(Photo/Hadithi Bandia)

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. – Controversy surrounding Confederate symbols surfaced in the most unlikely place this week: the affluent summer colony of Martha’s Vineyard, the exclusive New England island resort where President Obama is spending his annual vacation with family, friends, and close advisors.

As incongruous as it may seem, a statue and fountain honoring Confederate soldiers greets vacationers and year-rounders alike as they disembark the local ferry near the center of Oak Bluffs, the enclave historically known as a summer gathering place for African-American elites and intellectuals.

According to local sources, an advance White House team arriving in preparation for Obama’s summer holiday expressed concerns about “the appropriateness of a socially divisive symbol, in light of recent national events.” Unconfirmed reports say a member of the president’s staff asked that the town “partly obscure, move, or dismantle the potentially alienating figure” during the first family’s 15-day vacation.

It is not known whether Valerie Jarrett, the president’s Senior Advisor and seasonal resident of Oak Bluffs, initiated the request.

The 1891 statue – ironically depicting a Union Soldier – was established by Charles Strahan, a former Confederate soldier and publisher of the Martha’s Vineyard Herald, as a “gesture of conciliation.” Strahan relocated to Martha’s Vineyard after the Civil War, and found himself excluded from Union soldiers’ local gatherings. After expressing his “loyalty to the restored union”, and wishing for “more kindness shown to his old comrades”, a tablet honoring Confederate soldiers was added to the statue’s pedestal:

(Photo/Cerita Palsu)

“It is ironic,” said year-round resident and local historian Nan Hardy, “that a statue, originally commissioned in the spirit of healing a deeply divided nation, has come under this umbrella of Confederate controversy. Basic research would have rendered this now politicized event a non-issue. We are not waving a Confederate flag in the president’s face, nor anyone else’s for that matter. It’s merely a statute.”

The fate of the Union soldier statue, which was rededicated in 2001 after a two-year-restoration process, remains unknown. Options reportedly include “temporary removal for maintenance” during Obama’s island visit, or “permanent installation in a historical setting, similar to South Carolina’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.”

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4 Responses to "Martha’s Vineyard Confederate Statue Throws Shade On Obama’s Vacation"

  1. Avatar Dick Younger says:

    A suggestion for a new story. The headline should read “Mexican drug lord El Chapo escapes from maximum security prison. Reportedly headed for San Francisco!”

  2. Now we are trying to remove statues of Union Soldiers as well?

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