Re: Parks Department Rules
Lady Val and all,
The Va Flaggers have been attending events on National Park property since the kickoff of the Sesquicentennial, and as you know, we always carry Confederate flags.
I will briefly share my experience at two different locations:
At Sharpsburg, we walked around the grounds all day and were well received by both National Park officials, and visitors. The flags we carry offer us many opportunities to talk with folks about our ancestors and the honor and valor of the Confederate soldier. The only trouble we encountered there was a middle aged, white female teacher, who, at the conclusion of a memorial service for volunteers, proceeded to attack us for carrying ‘those" flags in public and actually shouted that she wished we all would "catch pneumonia and die!".
I attended both First and Second Manassas, and, again, were welcomed by NPS, with no restrictions.
Recently, at Fredericksburg, we had mentioned online that we would be attending, and protesting the "Custermobile". When I arrived and started across the parking lot toward the Custermobile (it was parked at Chatham Manor), I was greeted by a Park Ranger, who called me by name and proceeded to explain to me that they had set up a "First Amendment Zone" at the front of the parking lot for us. (How kind!) I politely inquired why we were being restricted to one area and was told that they knew we would appreciate it and that it is was such a "good spot" because everyone would see us. Oh…and as is usually the case…it was for "our own safety". 😉
I replied that I had looked over the rules and regulations for National Parks and found no restriction about carrying the flag or talking to folks. After some conversation, he left and let me stand there in front of the Custermobile, and told me he would come back and check on us later. Around noon, he did come by and said they decided since there were only 4 of us that we would be allowed to stay. I smiled and thanked him. We gave out over a hundred stick flags that day and talked to just about every single person who came out of the Custermobile. The gentlemen with me from a nearby SCV camp recruited at least a half dozen members.
MOST IRONIC is that after the first conversation with the Ranger, and before the others arrived, I took some time to explore the grounds. If I had been to Chatham House, it was as a child, and I had no recollection. As I approached the house, two gentlemen came out of the home and one of them spoke and called me by name. He introduced himself as none other than John J. Hennessy, chief historian and chief of interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He offered his hand and started the conversation by saying that he admired my "grit". He said he knew that I was not happy with the Custermobile and wanted to know about my specific objections. We had a good conversation and in the end, he admitted that he had written most of the material that it contained. I was carrying my flag during the entire conversation and not once did he mention it being forbidden or asked me to leave. We agreed to disagree on several points, and the conversation ended amicably.
Our time at Fredericksburg was one of the best we have had and we never did visit that "First Amendment Box" (how’s that for an oxymoron?) that they so graciously set up for us.
Not sure how all of this applies to the situation in your emails, but I just wanted to share and maybe offer encouragement to others…
Gettysburg Anniversary Event – No Confederates Need Show Up
By Valerie Protopapas