With Confederate monuments thrust into the spotlight after the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Martha’s Vineyard can look with pride on its own Civil War statue, built to express an aspiration that is as urgent today as it was when it was unveiled in 1891: to heal a nation’s deep divisions.

Standing at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs, the monument depicts a Union soldier, though it has been mistakenly identified over the years as a Confederate soldier.

That’s because the person who raised the money to build the monument fought in the Confederate army.

Charles Strahan was originally from Baltimore, Md., and took part in the battle of Gettysburg. In 1884 he moved to Martha’s Vineyard with his family and took over the Cottage City Star, an Oak Bluffs newspaper, renaming it the Martha’s Vineyard Herald. Seven years later, with the psychological wounds of war still fresh and a burning desire to do something to help heal the division between North and South, Strahan embarked on a project to build a monument to the Union army. He raised the money by selling newspaper subscriptions.

Cast in zinc by J.W. Fiske and Co. of New York, with base of Quincy granite, the statue was first dedicated on August 13, 1891, 126 years ago this week.

“That this comes from one who once wore gray, I trust will add significance to the fact that we are once more a union of Americans,” Strahan said in remarks at the dedication. “A union which endears with equal honor the citizen of Georgia with the citizen of Maine; that Massachusetts and South Carolina are again brothers; that there is no North nor South, no East nor West, but one undivided, undivisible union.”

Inscriptions on three sides of the monument honored the Grand Army of the Republic and its Island chapter. Later Strahan wrote that he hoped the monument would help dissipate the “mists of prejudice” and that veterans of the Union army might some day offer a tribute to their former foes on the fourth, uninscribed side of the monument.

Strahan lived to see his wish fulfilled. In 1925 the statue was rededicated, with a fourth plaque that read: “The chasm is closed. In memory of the restored Union this tablet is dedicated by Union veterans of the Civil War and patriotic citizens of Martha’s Vineyard in honor of the Confederate soldiers.”

In 1930 the Soldiers’ Memorial Fountain (its formal name) was moved from the foot of Circuit avenue to its current location. In the decades that followed it fell into disrepair.

In 2001 it was rededicated again following a major refurbishment that included public and private fundraising.

Today it is believed to be the only memorial north of the Mason-Dixon Line to soldiers who fought on both sides of the war. Its origins couldn’t be more different than that of the Confederate statues now being removed around the country, many built long after the Civil War specifically to symbolize resistance to efforts to end Jim Crow laws and other forms of racism.

“This monument is not about excusing or explaining the grotesque and inhuman system of slavery,” said the Rev. John P. Streit, dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston who delivered the invocation at the 2001 rededication of the Oak Bluffs statue. “This monument was conceived and built as an icon of healing — as a testament to our nation’s need to come together again in spite of all the killing, all the casualties, all the destruction that both sides endured.”

As it has around the country, Charlottesville has cast a late-summer shadow in Oak Bluffs and across the Vineyard, where African Americans for generations have found respite.

On Sunday, a panel discussion at the Union Chapel led by African American leaders suddenly shifted in the struggle to comprehend what had happened. That morning the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, guest preacher and senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., delivered a stirring sermon to an overflow congregation at the West Tisbury Congregational Church. And on Wednesday evening at the Grand Illumination in Oak Bluffs, the richly rooted traditions of the Camp Ground shone even brighter when musical director Robert Cleasby added an extra number to the program for the community sing. The voices rang out in unison on a warm and starry August night:

“We shall overcome.”