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GoFundMe campaign started to repair or replace monument

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Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins checks the damages to the monument of a Confederate soldier that stood in the Myrtle Hill Cemetery until it was seriously vandalized. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

The Myrtle Hill-Oak Hill Memorial Association has pledged $2,500 to lead fundraising efforts for the restoration — or replacement of — the sentinel monument atop historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery, the statue of a lone Confederate soldier damaged by vandals.

The monument, which has been at atop the hill at the historic cemetery since 1887, was damaged sometime on Dec. 20-21. A rifle and both of the soldier’s hands were knocked off, the face of the soldier appeared to have been bashed multiple times with a hammer and the brim of the soldier’s cap was chipped off.

In his 1981 book, “All Roads to Rome,” Roger Aycock called the monument, “a reminder of past heroism devoted to a lost cause and a symbol of bygone gallantry.” The monument originally was an urn atop the tall pedestal, but the statue of the soldier replaced it in 1909.

Stan Rogers, director of the Rome Cemetery department, estimated damages at $200,000. Rogers said he plans to contact representatives of two companies in Elberton next week.

“I’ve got two companies that I know of that have restored hands and stuff like that, guns,” Rogers said. “My only concern is the durability of the material they fix it with, as opposed to the granite itself.”

An unnamed company in Elberton was able to repair a similar monument in Milledgeville that was heavily damaged when it was struck by an automobile in the summer of 2016.

Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said he has not felt any significant level of angst toward historical monuments had been raised in Rome.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was someone who came here to deliberately try to create a stir or make some sort of political statement by doing this,” Rich said.

In-person donations can be made at the Rome-Floyd Visitor Center at 402 Civic Center Drive across from Applebee’s. Checks should be made payable to the Myrtle Hill-Oak Hill Memorial Association.

A GoFundMe account has been created to enable donors to easily give online as well.

Myrtle Hill-Oak Hill Memorial Association is an offspring of the Rome Area Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973 to improve and maintain the historic cemeteries.

 “It is important to have places of historical significance. It not only helps us share our story, but we can learn and grow from it as well,” said Lisa Smith, executive director for the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau in a press release issued by the city Wednesday.