Jill Pacetti is a resident of St. Augustine and has been on the front lines of the take down of memorials. She is fighting hard against removing the tomb of the war dead from St. Augustine – among them one of her cousins. Read her post about the struggle to fight this battle and feel free to help by donating or through activating your right to assembly against this travesty.
My name is Jill Pacetti and I live in St. Augustine, Florida – the oldest city in America. On August 20, 2017 the headlines in the local morning paper read “Local Pastor to Initiate Discussion for Removal of Confederate Monuments in St Augustine.” The demand for removal of all things confederate started in 2015 after Dylan Roof killed nine people who were attending a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopel Church in Charleston, NC. In 2017, after President Trump was sworn into office, the extreme radicals amped up their movement to remove ALL THINGS AMERICAN in an attempt to destroy our great Nation.
The city of St Augustine currently has two memorials that are related to the confederacy. One Confederate Memorial – a cenotaph – was erected in 1879 by the Ladies Memorial Association to honor 44 local men who died far from home and did not receive a proper burial. It stands in the Plaza de la Constitución. The other is a memorial to General Loring. To give you a brief history on that memorial, General Loring’s memorial sits on state property and his buried remains lie underneath his memorial. Three flags are carved out on his memorial. There is an American flag, a Confederate Battle flag and an Egyptian flag. Each flag represents the many conflicts General Loring fought in. Loring’s memorial sits on state property and is not governed by the City of St Augustine commission. University of Florida manages the property and is currently working behind the scenes to obtain permission to unearth his grave, and relocate his memorial away from the grounds of the Government House in downtown St Augustine.
My family has resided in St. Augustine since 1777. As rapidly as our town is changing into a forever altered, over-developed spot on the map, I did not see what was coming. Since August of 2017, I along with other family members and concerned residents, have fought to keep our family’s cenotaph that is Florida’s second oldest Confederate Memorial.
Forty-four men from St Augustine, who went off to fight in the Civil War, never returned. Their bodies lay in unknown locations in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virgina. The fallen were buried in mass graves that were so shallow, when farmers prepared the grounds for planting crops, they unearthed their decaying bodies. Deceased Confederate soldiers were not afforded a proper burial like the Union solders. This prompted local southern women to form organizations that would erect memorials to their fallen loved ones. They called themselves “Ladies Memorial Association.”
St Augustine’s local chapter, led by Anna Dummett, was challenged with the task of raising money to erect a cenotaph for these local deceased soldiers. This task was a complete labor of love as well as a challenge during a time of reconstruction. Building a memorial would help heal the pain left from a long war that took the lives of their husbands, brothers, fathers, and uncles. Ladies Memorial Association women baked cakes, took on sewing projects and even put on plays using local children to raise the money needed. In 1872 Bishop Verot gave the LMA permission to build the cenotaph on church property, because the plaza where they had originally planned to erect the cenotaph, was still under Federal control. After reconstruction ended, the ladies petitioned for a new memorial to be constructed on public property and permission was granted by the newly formed city council.
Construction on the new cenotaph was completed in 1879, and since this time hundreds of Confederate Memorial Day events have been held at this location to remember the fallen soldiers from St Augustine. The men listed on the memorial, many of Menorcan descent, still have family residing in the city of St Augustine and St Johns County. This cenotaph bears no confederate markings, and only has one mention of the word confederate on a marble plaque that says, “Our Confederate Dead.” After a century of standing, the plaque is so faded you can barely make out the wording. In today’s modern times, many will tell you they never realized that St Augustine had a confederate memorial in the plaza. At least not until it was brought to the community’s attention during a bandwagon effort to remove all things related to the confederacy.
On June 22, 2020 the city commission voted 3-2 to relocate the memorial from the Plaza. Large city trucks rushed to the plaza to board up and fence in the memorial. Citizens swarmed the plaza, watching in disbelief. The media was filming and those who hate America were cheering and yelling, “Tear it down” while those who supported our memorial held flags and stood guard. My family and I drove around the plaza. My daughter and I sobbed at the visual of not just our ancestors being disrespected, but of another city giving in to mob rule.
Again, the Ladies Memorial Association organizes their efforts with the same determination they had back in the late 1800’s. A lawsuit has been filed against the City of St Augustine, and we pray our day in court will give us a little more time to keep our beloved memorial. We not only fight the city of St Augustine to keep this memorial; we fight for the right to continue to honor our heroes, our fallen soldiers, past presidents, and freedom of religion in public spaces. We fight because we know that our Country is at war with an anti-American revolution to totally eradicate ALL THINGS AMERICA STANDS FOR.
Mayors in cities all over America have succumb to the threat of violence and domestic terrorism. They have failed the very communities that had faith in their ability to lead, protect and serve us. We are not a democracy. In their position as leaders, it is their responsibility to uphold the Rule of Law. We will no longer depend on our local government to protect us. We will not be left unguarded and watch these domestic terrorists take over our home towns. Patriots do exist, and they are coming out in numbers at an important time in our history to unite and support a better revolution to protect our constitutional rights.
Last Sunday, as a kind gesture, our Chief of Police, accompanied the descendants inside the fence that now surrounds our family’s memorial to pay our respects. We adorned the memorial with flowers and flags. I read their names from a list I had typed, because plywood covers their plaques. It was a very solemn moment, because for us it is not just a piece of concrete, it is our heritage and the empty tomb of our ancestors.
If you believe this monument and others like them should remain standing, please help by donating to the Ladies Memorial Association.
Cousin of Eusebio Pacetti who died in 1864 somewhere in Florida