Wording on WWI memorial plaque delays moving monument

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – After months of work, plans to move a World War I monument are put on hold.

The delay is because of the words “White Enlisted” and “Color Enlisted” inscribed on the monument.

News13 first reported the restoration efforts back in May.

For nearly 60 years, the monument sat behind the American Legion Post in Florence where it was subject to both weather and vandalism. The memorial stone now sits at Brown Memorials in Florence.

The bronze plaque on the monument lists 67 Florence soldiers that served in WWI.

On it, soldiers are separated as “Colored Enlisted” and “White Enlisted.”

“The first time I saw it I thought, ‘67 people from one county in South Carolina,’” said Barry Wingard, Chairman of the Florence Veteran’s Park.

“To be candid, I don’t think anybody had paid too much attention or noticed the fact that these names were segregated on this monument, but when it came to light both the city and the American Legion said ‘let’s pause for a second,’” mentioned Mayor Stephen Wukela.

Mayor Wukela will admit it’s not an easy decision to make.

“As I have suggested, we can put a new plaque on the existing monument that has the names consolidated and alphabetized and put the original monument that has been restored in a museum,” he explained.

“I initially hoped for the current plaque, the originally plaque, accompanied by marble or granite stone. I had told a friend of mine that I feel very strongly both ways,” added Wingard.

A similar situation happened earlier this year in Greenwood where a WWI and wwII monument had the same two categories. Mayor Welborn Adams attempted to put up new plaques but was blocked by the state’s heritage act.

“They weren’t erecting the monument anew, but here we are erecting the monument for the first time in the public park,” said Wukela.

While both the city and the American Legion Post are stuck between a rock and a hard place, they both can agree with moving forward.

“I want to move forward with the monument with a plaque.  The question is which plaque will it be,” Wingard said.

The mayor says he’ll sit down with the city manager and the American Legion Post sometime this week to go over plans for the monument.

He says the final decision is up to the American Legion Post.

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