Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pondering Replacements for Confederate Statue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pondering Replacements for Confederate Statue

Article excerpt

Byline: Ron Littlepage

Considering the slimy state of presidential politics these days, let's turn to something a little more lighthearted.

Of course, there are some who believe the Legislature's vote to replace the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as one of Florida's two entries in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall is not a laughing matter.

They see it as an affront to the South's heritage and political correctness run amok.

Could we all just agree that what true Southerners call "The Recent Unpleasantness" was actually a long time ago and that in the intervening years, there have been other Floridians who have had a bigger impact on the state than a Confederate general?

This is not about dissing Smith and the role he played in "The War of Northern Aggression."

It's just time to move on and find another person to honor in the U.S. Capitol who better represents Florida's story.

Florida's other statue in the hall is of John Gorrie, who was instrumental in the development of air conditioning.

No air conditioning, no Florida; he stays.

Although it seems impossible currently to have a selection process that isn't filled with rancor - see above about presidential politics - the exercise to choose a replacement for Smith should be fun and enlightening, not painful.

To get the ball rolling, here are some of my thoughts:

One candidate likely to be mentioned is Walt Disney.

Even though Florida was a destination for tourists before the advent of Disney World, construction of that fantasy land was a game changer.

I look at what happened to Orlando, however, and I would argue the change was for the worse. Others see a pot of gold.

Walt Disney would not get my vote.

There's probably no one who has had a greater impact on the development of Florida than Henry Flagler. …

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