Aiken Leaders Weigh- in on Confederate Flag Debate

By Kait Rayner
Published: January 19, 2011

"It reminds us of those days where we were not treated as human beings," said James Gallman.

"It does not stand for hate, it stands for tradition of living, its the battle flag," said Bob Ritter.

Meet these two men.

The confederate flag has deep meaning to both of them.

To Bob Ritter, it represents family honor and a sense of pride in a place he loves very much — the south.

"My great great great grandfather was wounded three times under that flag when he was fighting in battle in the war between the states. To me it stands for what he gave to the south during that time when there was a split in our country," Ritter said.
 

However, when James Gallman sees this flag he gets a very different feeling.

"Every time we see pictures of lynching we see the confederate flag. When we see the KKK and the marches and the burning of crosses we’ve always had that flag," said Gallman

The sentiments of these two men is at the crux of a state issue–

On Monday, a large group of protesters marched on Columbia to have the confederate flag removed from State House grounds.

And the debate continues in Aiken.

Some feel the loss of the state’s heritage is at steak.

"Once we get rid of this battle flag, we started to get rid of what the states fought for and represented during those years,” said Ritter.

Others say the flag is a reminder of slavery and flying it, only hinders the progress made during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

"Its not something we are ever going to think of as a good thing in our community," said Gallman.

The battle of flag has been going on for years.

And although these two men have very different opinions of the confederate flag,

There is one flag that they can agree on.

"The flag of the United States as well as the flag of the state of South Carolina," said Gallman.

"I fly the American flag on my front porch," said Ritter.

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