CRESTVIEW — The divide between residents who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of southern heritage and those reminded of segregated times is coming to the forefront, as one resident petitions the City Council to remove a memorial’s flag.
At issue is the Confederate flag flying at the William "Uncle Bill" Lundy memorial on the corner of East 1st Avenue and North Ferdon Boulevard. The Crestview Lions Club dedicated the memorial to Lundy, Florida's last living Confederate soldier. Lundy died at age 109 in 1957.
"This is still a city problem," Mae R. Coleman said during Monday’s city council meeting. "It's not the monument; it's the flag."
Coleman said she wants the flag to come down because it divides the community.
The issue is a sensitive topic, Mayor David Cadle said.
"I am deeply concerned about the emotions that arise with this issue," he said. “It is a divisive issue, sadly, to this day."
In addition, the memorial’s placement has raised concern for traffic safety, Cadle said, adding he has often witnessed motorists traveling on East Hickory Avenue failing to use turn signals when approaching the memorial.
"It’s really poorly placed," he said.
Cadle and council member Shannon Hayes said they have received little public input on the issue, but they want to hear from more residents.
Hayes shares Coleman’s concern, but he said he wants to find "a workable solution."
"I don't have mixed feelings about it, but I do have concern for our citizens," he said.
Public Services Director Wayne Steele said the city maintains the memorial’s grounds, treating it as a right of way. Still, it is unclear who holds the property's land title. The council voted unanimously for Steele to conduct a title search.
What is certain, he said, is that “the city of Crestview does not provide the Confederate flags for this memorial. The flags are donated by the family and friends of William ‘Bill’ Lundy."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.