Local monument has northern roots in deep South

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LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WJHG) - On the corner of 8th Street and Georgia Avenue in Lynn Haven sits a very unique monument.

A Union soldier looks north to his homeland as he sits atop a 26-foot tall pedestal in Lynn Haven. (WJHG)

“The town was founded by a Union soldier who wanted to develop a community for the veterans of the Great Republic and bring them here right in the middle of the Southland,” said Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson.

She was referring to W.H. Lynn. But why settle there?

“I think they [Union veterans] saw this as a beautiful place for retirement,” said Anderson, who lived in Lynn Haven as a child and moved back permanently in the 1980s.

But it was Union vet and Lynn Haven Mayor Dr. William Krape who wanted to erect a statue paying tribute to his fallen comrades.

“I think that everyone here has a deep respect for the history of Lynn Haven," said Anderson, "and we liked the fact that even though we are in what you would call the deep South, that our community is a little different in that we've taken care of this statute.”

The bronze statue is of a Union soldier. He’s forever looking to the North, his homeland.

“It's interesting that this is the only Union statue south of the old Mason-Dixon line and that the people of this community have revered the statue," said Anderson. "They've taken care of it through the years.”

It was erected in 1920 and sits on a 26-foot tall pedestal. It was said to be largely paid for by Union veterans out of their pension checks.

“I think this statue is a testament to how we are stronger together and in this time of dissension and politics," said Anderson. "I think back to a time when this nation was completely divided and how this community is together now with a mixture of those who fought on each side [of the Civil War].”

With so many here with such deep ties to the Confederacy, was there ever any thought of removing the statue?

“We don't want it moved," said Anderson. "There's never been a movement for that.”

In the 1950s, the statue was rededicated to all war veterans.

A couple of miles away at Mount Hope Cemetery lies the remains of many Yankees who fought in the Civil War.

"These are union soldiers' headstones," said Anderson, pointing to some grave markers. "There are some Confederate veterans here as well, but the majority, because of the fact that Lynn Haven was a retirement community for veterans of the Civil War and it was a Union soldier who founded the city, most of these are Union soldiers’ graves.”

Side by side Yankee and Rebel, together they lie forever, a nation made whole again by what they had in common: The American Spirit.

“People just came out and cared for these graves because of the historical significance,” said Anderson.

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