Police dishonor Brazos County sheriff

By: Travis Holland
Issue date: 1/22/07

In an effort to keep from offending unidentified Brazos Valley residents, local police have done an injustice to a fallen comrade.

This month, a police honor guard was removed from former Brazos County Sheriff Bobby Yeager’s funeral, solely because there was a Confederate flag displayed on his coffin. This was a shameful public relations move and an insult to the deceased peace officer.

College Station resident Hubert Havel was a good friend of Sheriff Yeager. He knew Yeager since they were children. Havel remembers Sheriff Yeager as a Civil War historian and a man who had pride in his southern heritage.

"He wasn’t racist; he was a nice guy," Havel said. "He helped out people around town and went beyond the call of duty."

Yeager was elected sheriff in 1978 and served Brazos County with a glistening record.

Shortly after officers of the College Station Police Department saw the flag, they left the funeral service. Officers of the Bryan Police Department followed suit.

Officials at the Bryan and College Station police departments should be ashamed of themselves. They turned their backs on a fellow law officer, and for that there is no excuse. In their misguided attempt to not offend anyone, both departments failed miserably. Citizens from all over the Brazos Valley have voiced their outrage with those responsible for the decision; meanwhile, both departments have stood by their decisions.

In this situation, being politically correct should not be the priority. The flag held no negative or racist connotation to the sheriff. Therefore, it was wrong of the departments to pull their officers.

After the original honor guard departed, current Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk had his men stand in. Disregarding the other departments’ opinions, the county officers stepped in and did the right thing. It is not surprising that there has been an overflow of public support for the Sheriff’s Department.

To many southerners, the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride for where they live. Many outsiders overlook this connotation of the flag. The media shows the flag in a racist or negative context, one which breeds a negative connotation in some peoples’ eyes.

The Confederate flag is only what people make of it. The flag is a symbol open to interpretation, no different than a picture, or a piece of art. Government officials should take this into account before making rash decisions in the future. Just because some people find the flag offensive doesn’t mean it should be a taboo image.

The incident at Sheriff Yeager’s funeral is a shame, but hopefully it will serve as a model of what not to do. As for the Brazos County Sheriff’s Department, its officers should be proud in knowing that they did the right thing by honoring a good man despite the misconceptions of others.

© 2006 The Battalion Online

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