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  • Writer's pictureSSH - FL

TIME FOR A "DO OVER" - Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith


The main criticism is the rush to judgment to jump on the bandwagon of Confederophobia inherent in the passing of the statute requiring the replacement of the statue of Kirby Smith ab initio. One of the speakers even referred to "The Confederate General" - not to Edmund Kirby Smith as a Floridian, in a manner I took to be disrespectful.

Apparently no consideration was given to the fact that the US Capitol's statuary enabling act provides for a civilian or military observance, and that Florida perhaps should have a balance between these two. Thus, in this case, a military figure should be replaced by a military figure.

There seems to have been a minimal, if any, public notice of the meeting wherein the choices were made, and no public input as to the selection procedure of Ad Hoc Committee members.

The entire matter appears to be fraught with the same taint as did the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame's initial selection procedure from 2011.

That selection process had to be readdressed by the legislature to ensure a fair and impartial selection.

We suggest that the same procedure - nomination of a council by number of different persons, rather than the fortuitous and secret process engaged in, would be appropriate. The precedent of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame situation, wherein bitter complaint was made as to the initial nominees, some of whom have been re-nominated, is certainly apropos.

There was such a short time between passage of the statute and the committee's action that the import of the statute had not begun to have been felt. I question the notice procedures made to the public and whether due consideration was given to reasonable reaction time. It was virtually all over before it began.

Very few organizations had had an opportunity to hold annual meetings, for instance, and the lack of organizational nomination was noted and highlighted in the hearing.

This is especially true of military-oriented organizations, such as the VFW, American Legion, DAV, VVF, etc. which were given no chance to weigh in collectively with a nomination.

It is also true of the various arts, social, and historical groups as well as the many lineage societies in this state, which are devoted to the recognition and honoring of their various respective founders, progenitors or famous members, as the case may be.

Kirby Smith may not represent in the Capital forever, but we protest and disagree, however, with the method and especially the spirit in which a replacement is being proposed. We especially disagree with the hurried manner the statute was passed - being without a proper financial impact study having been made, and without a replacement being considered before removal. It is quite possible, for instance, that a truly independent search committee would have recommended keeping Gen. Kirby Smith and replacing Dr. Gorrie. A time-line for future replacements on a periodic basis could have been set. This would have overcome the accusation of bandwagon ephemeral bias and hysteria throughout the process.

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