Despite the protest of Grand Army Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Wilfred A. Wetherbee against the placing of a Confederate veteran’s name on the Soldiers’ Monument at Oak Bluffs, representatives of the surviving member of the Henry Clay Wade Post, and the Woman’s Relief Corps, declare that the plan shall be carried out, and regard the commander’s objection as ridiculous and shameful.
The commander’s statement regarding the proposed memorial was substantially as follows: “To erect such a memorial is an insult to the memory of the 400,000 brave boys who gave up their lives to protect our flag and our country, and to prevent these men they now seek to honor from destroying our republic.
“The Grand Army of the Republic has long extended the hand of fellowship to those men who did their best to divide the union, and who have since renewed their loyalty to our flag and country; but it will not approve the erection of memorials to them in northern states.
“We concede the right to those states which rebelled and took up arms against our country to place as many memorials as they please in their dominions, but we do protest the flaunting of their tablets or memorials in the faces of the men who for years defended and saved the flag from those who would tear it down. Treason always has been and always will be odious.”
Commander Wetherbee further stated that there was no G. A. R. Post on the Vineyard, and that the only Woman’s Relief Corps was at Edgartown. So far as he knew, there were no surviving members of the Henry Clay Wade Pose, which was disbanded seven years ago.
To this statement, Mrs. Sydna Eldridge, Past President of the Woman’s Relief Corps, No. 134, of Oak Bluffs, replies that the Oak Bluffs corps is not only alive and flourishing with over 100 members, but that it is many years older and much stronger than the Edgartown corps, and that the corps will carry out the proposed plan alone, if the G. A. R. veterans are prevented from taking part.
“I don’t know anything about Com. Wetherbee,” stated Judge B. T. Hillman of Edgartown, a Past Commander of the G. A. R. Post, “but his attitude is ridiculous. The southerners fought bravely in defense of their home institutions, and there is no reason why they should not be honored for their courage and tenacity in defending those things which they believed in.”
The monument in questions was presented to the Henry Clay Wade Post, about 33 years ago, by Charles A. Strahan, now of Vineyard Haven, who served as a lieutenant in the Confederate Army.
Believing that it would help to heal the breach between the north and south, Mr. Strahan, who was then editor of the Cottage City Star, raised the money for the monument through his paper, and at the time of its dedication made a speech in which he mentioned that one face of the monument had been left black, in the hope that at some future date the name of a Confederate soldier might be placed there.
It was therefore agreed at a joint meeting of the patriotic organizations of the Island, held in Edgartown on May 30 of this year, to place the name of Charles Strahan on the monument. It was this decision that drew the statement from Vice Commander of the G. A. R. The work, however, is to go on, and it is planned to have the ceremony of re-dedication take place during the Oak Bluffs celebration next month.