SANDUSKY, Ohio - As Confederate monuments come down across the country, people on Johnson’s Island are wondering about the future of the Confederate cemetery and statue there.
“I think it’s terrible,” said Don Young, head of the Johnson’s Island Preservation Society. “How far are people gonna go on this thing?”
Roughly 9,000 Confederate soldiers, mostly officers, were imprisoned on the island during the Civil War.
More than 200 were buried in a small cemetery next to the Sandusky Bay. The Southern Soldier statue is the centerpiece. The sculptor, Moses Ezekiel, donated the piece to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was dedicated in 1910.
“He looks like he is standing guard over this cemetery, looking for any adversaries that might disturb the honored resting place of these Confederate soldiers here in this cemetery,” Young said.
Critics say monuments like it symbolize racism. Many have been removed since the deadly confrontation at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia nearly two weeks ago.
Young doesn’t think there is malicious intent behind the Southern Soldier.
“That thing was put here to honor these soldiers who died for a cause they believed in and are buried here in this cemetery. That’s it.”
Young said he has asked the police to keep a close eye on cemetery and memorial following vandalism at a larger Confederate Cemetery in Columbus. The head was knocked from the statue.
The property on Johnson’s Island is owned by the Veterans Administration.