I supported the position of the NAACP regarding The Talbot Boys statue when our County Council was first asked to consider moving it from the courthouse lawn, and I continue to support that position.
I believe removing that statue and replacing it with another monument that lists all the names currently placed on The Talbot Boys base, alongside all those Talbot Countians that fought on the Union side, and eliminating the Confederate flag as part of the memorial is the right thing to do for our community.
Obviously, there are many people who disagree. I have listened to the concerns of those who feel the statue should stay, thoughtful people who worry that those who support the statue’s removal are willfully trying to sanitize our own history and that the names on the statue’s base are relatives of people who continue to live here and should be remembered as young men who simply fought for something they believed in.
These people abhor what happened in Charlottesville and Charleston, but wonder how many statues have to come down for all the turmoil to cease. There are hundreds of communities all over this country struggling with these same issues, complicated problems with no easy solutions.
The Talbot Boys statue is our problem to resolve, and for me the resolution became clear when the issue became personal. When I heard a friend of mine, someone I admire very much and who works very hard to make our community a better place for everyone in it, say that whenever she sees a Confederate flag, she feels afraid, I realized the statue needed to be moved. Her statement became the lens through which I viewed all the other opinions I read and continue to read and it is why I cannot see any resolution other than removing that statue.
I understand that what I’ve written is merely my own opinion, worth no more or no less than anyone else’s opinion. But here are a couple of facts: as long as the statue of The Talbot Boys remains in its present configuration and location, regardless of what may be placed beside it, there will be a Confederate flag in front of the Talbot County Courthouse and as long as that flag remains, there will be members of our community who feel unwelcome there, who feel as if they do not belong there.
Those two facts may not change anyone’s opinion, but they must not be ignored. For me, they outweigh all the other facets of our Talbot Boys problem and they are why I will continue to support the removal of that statue.
Peggy Ford of Easton requested the republication of this commentary by her late husband John Ford, who served for 22 years on the Easton Town Council and 15 years as its president. It first appeared in the August 30, 2017, edition of The Star Democrat.