Should state allow Union memorial at Olustee?

By Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida
Headline Goes Here State Archives of Florida

OLUSTEE, Fla. - Sounds of battle: shots and yelling, fife and drums.

The re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee drew nearly 35,000 people to a state park in Baker County last weekend –- including 2,500 re-enactors who staged the Confederate victory just as it unfolded on February 20, 1864.

But now, with the re-enactment over, the battle resumes.

Last year the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War asked the Department of Environmental Protection to place a memorial in the park honoring their ancestors who fell at Olustee.

At Sunday's re-enactment, Leon Duke of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said his group has no objection to the monument.  But they do have concerns about where it might be placed.

"Don't put it in front of the monument where, when you come in there and you back up to take a picture of our monument, you have to take a picture of theirs," Duke said. "Because if you back up far enough to take a picture of the whole monument, where they want to put it, you would be taking a picture of theirs."

State parks officials have been searching for a compromise.

And House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley has filed a bill that would require changes to state park memorials to be approved by the legislature.

Baxley said he's talked with the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the parks, about the dispute.

"I'm convinced that they're not on a fast track. I think they're letting us work through this policy decision about how we handle memorials," Basley said.

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