KNOXVILLE - The Fort Sanders Confederate monument near 17th Street and Laurel Avenue in Knoxville is stirring up a conversation about history.
Maryville College Professor of History Dr. Aaron Astor says history is more important than ever in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The monument in Fort Sanders was put there in 1914 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It says, "In memory of the confederate soldiers who fell in the assault on Fort Sanders in 1863."
Astor sits on the state board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association.
He says there's a difference between the Fort Sanders monument and others around the nation causing controversy.
"These monuments are really monuments not to history itself, but to collective memory," said Astor.
Someone recently vandalized the monument, which brought Knoxville resident Phillip Cook out to clean it up on his own time.
"It's getting it," said Cook, as he scrubbed with soap and water. "It's going to take a lot more."
Cook didn't have to be out there, he just saw a need.
"This is a public monument that's been vandalized," said Cook. "I feel like it was done as a political statement."
"Crime is not how the political process works in this country," said Cook. "We don't engage in criminal activity to further our political views."
Ben Allen decided to create a petition to take the monument down. The petition has already accumulated more than 1,300 signatures.
"It's clear to me that these monuments do nothing to teach the history of this country, but do everything to enable neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis to enact acts of violence in the same spirit that their Confederate ancestors did," said Allen.
Cook says people can petition to take it down, but for now, he hopes it'll just get cleaned up.
"That's not how we run this country, that's not how we make political decisions in this country," said Cook.
Neighbors have created a counter petition, asking for the monument to stay.
They say tearing down the monument would be a way to hide the country's history, and they don't want history to repeat itself.
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