CC:,,,,,, dennisphillips@franklin-gov.c

Re: Franklin Ceremony

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regarding the mayor’s statement that he prefer the Confederate Flag not “appear” at November 30th ceremony commemorating the Battle of Franklin:

As an associate member of two Sons of Confederate Veterans camps, a reenactor, and a serious student of history, I have heard every argument there is against the display of the Confederate Battle Flag:

The “anathema to some” argument is certainly familiar. If the mayor is talking about African Americans, then I suppose that to “some” this symbol is an anathema. However, a look around at reality itself shows that MOST African Americans have chosen to make their home in the South since they were first able to make such a choice – confederate flags notwithstanding. In which states is the population one third to one half African American? Answer – Southern States! Pardon me but my own experience dealing with African Americans has shown that the “Confederate Flag” isn’t on most of their minds at all.

Besides – there are others to whom the Confederate flag holds the opposite meaning. What about them? Where is it written that the opinions of “some” who view the flag as an “anathema” must prevail over “some” who hold the opposite opinion? Someone please point out to me where this is so written?

The answer of course is that it is not written anywhere. This is a free country, and “free” does not mean “free” only for “some”, it means “free” for everyone. In a free country, people give each other leave to disagree without engaging in strong-arm tactics or bullying. Those who find the confederate flag to be an “anathema” and who would bully those who do not feel this way would do well to remember that “some” of us find some of THEIR opinions, some of THEIR symbols and some of THEIR heroes to be just as noxious as they find some of ours. It’s called a difference of opinion. In a free and civilized country, we all learn to live with other peoples’ opinions.

The other argument I often hear is that racists have used the Confederate Flag for their own ends or “co-opted” it. Forgive me but this argument doesn’t fly. Certain groups also use the Christian Cross and I’m not about to dump that symbol for fear of being lumped in with them. No one has copyright on either symbol and it is, as I said, a free country. Every day in this country people use the Confederate Flag for a variety of appropriate reasons and they get no news coverage. The problem is one of perception and that perception is generated by the media and perpetuated by those who keep pointing to it, (probably for personal gain).

And then there’s the old “slavery” bugaboo, as if the South, or the United States for that matter, is the only place on the planet that has ever practiced that institution. All one needs to do to is to read a few world history books to see that this is not so. I don’t hear anyone screaming about slavery as it was practiced in the European colonies, or in Asia, or in the ancient world, or in Africa itself for that matter. Do a google search on “Dahomey” or “Ashante” to see which African tribes participated in the lucrative slave trade – selling fellow Africans first to Arabic peoples, then to Europeans, and later to Americans. If the South needs to be ashamed, then the whole world needs to step up and likewise be ashamed. Besides, slavery is still practiced (in Africa) today, and I don’t hear anyone yelling and screaming about it. Personally, I go with the assessment of Dr. Thomas Sowell, an African American conservative columnist, who said that the reason this is so is that, “Slavery of the past is remunerable for reparations in the present.”

In the case of the Battle of Franklin ceremony though – we don’t have the usual questions of flying the flag in a position of sovereignty or putting it on public buildings, etc. – we have a situation where it is to be used in its historical context, a place where few, even many of those who dislike the flag, would contest its use. (You have used the flag in the past at such ceremonies – I’ve seen photos of past events. Did anyone get upset?). 6000 confederate soldiers fell on November 30th, 1864, in a frontal assault on union lines in the space of a few hours. The flag in question is the flag they fought under. It is inconceivable to me that you would hold a ceremony which in part honors them, and at the same time ban that same flag. Remember, those men are American veterans, deemed so by the United States government, and 29000+ of them are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Mayor Miller’s “suggestion” qualifies as either a political stunt, or a knee-jerk over-reaction to potential controversy. In either case, it does not speak highly of his character or his judgment. After all, there are a lot more people in the Mayor’s constituency than just the “some” who find the flag to be an anathema, and he is turning his back on them. It had crossed my mind to buy the good mayor a 3-pack of jockey underwear – to be carried around with him the next time something gives him a case of “brown shorts”, but I decided that I had better things to spend my money on.

So instead, I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

To those who at least would contend that that mayor has overreacted, I thank you for your support.

To the mayor, and to anyone else who still doesn’t see what I’ve outlined here, please ponder the words of a decorated Civil War combat veteran and Union soldier Ambrose Beirce. In addressing a group of “bloody shirt wavers” after the war, Beirce berated them with the following words, which were a reference to their refusal to recognize an honorable and brave opponent:

“The brave respect the brave. The brave respect the dead. BUT YOU! You wave that ancient blade, THE ASSES’ JAW, and wave it o’er a hero’s grave”!!

Bill Vallante
Commack, NY
9th Va. Inf. Co. C., (Reenactor)
SCV Camp 3000 (Associate)
SCV Camp 1506 (Associate)

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