I’ll bet that most residents in Massachusetts have looked on with distant interest as communities down South engaged in pitched battles about Confederate statues, those elaborate stone and concrete images carved as tributes to soldiers and leaders of the Confederate army. Lest we forget, these men waged a losing war against fellow Americans to protect their right to hold black human beings in bondage. And yet, most often these statues and the men they represent have been located in a place of honor — a city’s town square or other prominent location.

But, from New Orleans to North Carolina, many of these statues have been dismantled. I’ve often spoken about growing up in Memphis, where Confederate statues were in many parks — notably, the one honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose likeness was in a park also named after him. I was relieved to leave those statues behind when I moved to the Northeast. Except, it turns out, I didn’t.

I was startled to learn about the monument at Fort Warren on Georges Island, a concrete block listing the names of the Confederate prisoners who died there. It came to light in 2017, when the national debate about removing Confederate statues was raging. Stories described the Georges Island Confederate monument as the only one in Massachusetts. But it turns out, there is another located in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. As a regular summer visitor, I’ve passed by the 7-foot statue of a Northern soldier in the town square a million times, a tribute to the men who fought in the Union army. But until recently, I didn’t know there was a plaque on the back of it, honoring Confederate soldiers and another urging “conciliation.”

Charles Strahan, who fought for the Confederacy, raised money to pay for the statue and the plaques after he moved to Massachusetts in the 1800s. He wanted to foster reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers, and some did meet in the state for a few years in the mid-1920s. But those friendly meetings of white soldiers ignored the central issue of the war: the fight to preserve slavery. Now, the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP is campaigning to remove the two Confederate plaques, even as some residents argue they should not be compared to other Confederate statues.

For the last year, the debate sparked discussions about race, history and island culture. But when the NAACP presented a resolution to remove the plaques, emotions ratcheted up. Longtime resident Gretchen Tucker Underwood, a member of the executive committee of the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP, posted a public Facebook message last month, part of which read, “I want to be just another Vineyarder ... a good neighbor, a voter, a stakeholder. ... But TODAY, I am the descendant of a slave ... asked to pay tribute in 'Honor' of those who fought and died in slavery’s defense.”

Meanwhile, the Confederate monument on Georges Island has been boarded up. And in Memphis, the Confederate statues were removed after much contentious protest. And now there’s tension around Gov. Charlie Baker’s Memorial Day proclamation honoring both Union and Confederate soldiers, just in time for tomorrow night’s long-anticipated public forum when the Oak Bluffs selectmen will oversee discussion of the NAACP resolution. The words on one of the Oak Bluffs plaques reads, "The chasm is closed." But this emotional divide is ever wider.