By Sara Powers

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Leaders in a western Michigan community have voted to keep a statue of Confederate and Union Civil War soldiers with a Black child kneeling between them.

File- This June 30, 2020, file photo shows the Civil War statue at Veterans Garden of Honor in Allendale Township, Mich. A citizens committee in western Michigan has proposed removing a park statue of a Union soldier and Confederate soldier standing back to back as a slave child kneels between them. The Garden of Honor Memorial Committee presented its suggestion Monday, May 24, 2021, to the Allendale Township board which could vote June 14 on the statue’s future. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

The Allendale Township board voted 5-2, despite a recommendation from a group that the statue be replaced by one with Union soldiers who are Black, Native American, and white.

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“It’s been made very clear to me that the majority of our residents wish for the Civil War statue to remain in the garden of honor,” said Jody Hansen, township clerk, and board member.

Dozens of people attended the meeting, which was held outdoors at a park bandshell, 15 miles west of Grand Rapids.

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File- This June 30, 2020, file photo shows the Civil War statue at Veterans Garden of Honor in Allendale Township, Mich. A citizens committee in western Michigan has proposed removing a park statue of a Union soldier and Confederate soldier standing back to back as a slave child kneels between them. The Garden of Honor Memorial Committee presented its suggestion Monday, May 24, 2021, to the Allendale Township board which could vote June 14 on the statue’s future. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

“What better lesson can we teach our children than by being able to say, ‘We had this thing. We thought it was OK. We have since learned that we were wrong,” said area resident Cathy Seaver, who wants the statue removed.

Trustee Barb VanderVeen, who opposed keeping the statue, asked if the child, which represents a slave, could at least be removed. Trustee Candy Kraker said the artist indicated that removing it would damage the structural integrity.

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