Ringgold Flag Flap and your article
Dear Mrs. Babb-Taylor,
Hello, my name is Billy Bearden, and your recent opinion piece entitled "Confederate flag represents both heritage and hate" has unnerved me. I have thought about it last night when I read it, all day today at work, and it is on my mind as I finally get a chance to offer some rebuttal points of my own.
I must admit not many things do that to me, but this is one of those times. I simply ask you follow thru till the end of this letter, and keep an open mind, and please overlook the grammar and punctuation, as spell-check is not an option on this computer.
I live in Mount Zion, Georgia, in Carroll County. I am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans – Georgia Division, Forrest’s Escort Camp 1239, Villa Rica Georgia. I am also 1 of 6 of the members of the National SCV’s Heritage Defense Committee. With this pedigree, I admit the obvious – I am pro Confederate Flag – all 180 + of them!
I used to have a friend up in that neck of the woods, a Mr. Rodney Waller, who stood quite a few times at the Depot and near the Gap holding a Confederate Flag to express his displeasure at the Army of Tennessee Battleflag being removed and replaced by the Hardee Cleburne Battleflag. He passed away recently from a heart attack, but just knowing that some with faltering health would take such a stand is very inspiring to me.
I have no issue at all with the Cleburne Battle flag. I believe the men who bore it were both famous and feared, just as the men of Lee and Jackson were. In fact I have done a small part in helping to honor the Cleburne Flag myself. http://www.cleburnenews.com/news/2007/cn-local-0402-0-7d02k5934.htm and http://www.fotw.net/flags/us-al-cc.html
Rodney was the one who alerted me to what our guys call a "Heritage Violation". Being Ringgold is quite a bit aways north of me, others closer to the situation did what they felt was right, and I agree with the current decision to pay respects to our Confederate dead on Confederate Memorial Day April 26th, 2008 at the Ringgold Depot. I do believe that according to Georgia Law, the Ringgold City Council violated code section 50-3-1. Description of state flag; militia to carry flag. (2) No publicly owned monument or memorial erected, constructed, created, or maintained on the public property of this state or its agencies, departments, authorities, or instrumentalities in honor of the military service of any past or present military personnel of this state, the United States of America or the several states thereof, or the Confederate States of America or the several states thereof shall be relocated, removed, concealed, obscured or altered in any fashion.
I plan on joining those you term "Radical Extremists".
You seem to place a lot of stock in informing your readers that Southern Heritage folks are white guys. Lots of the non-white people might take offense. I know for a fact that in our camp we have a member named Mr. Tony Gonzalez. He is a Hispanic member, and former Officer of the Douglasville Georgia Police Department. His Confederate Ancestor is Captain Celestino Gonzalez, who is buried http://s3.amazonaws.com/findagrave/photos/2002/148/6456648_1022711045.jpg in a joint grave at Fort Tyler, where the Battle of West Point Georgia took place http://www.forttyler.com/
I expect that a Mr. HK Edgerton will be attending the event at Ringgold Depot, Once President of the Ashville NC NAACP, now Southern Heritage Activist. He happens to be Black. I could go on telling you of numerous non-white folks who hold affection for the Confederate Flag, but that is not the main point I was attempting to make.
Name calling is wrong. As a teacher of God’s Word you should know that. ExGov Roy Barnes called supporters of the 56 flag Extremists. Ex Speaker Tom Murphy called 56 flag supporters Jackasses. Column Man Bill Shipp called 56 Flag supporters Peckerwoods. Radio Talk Host Neal Boortz called them Flaggots. Now we have you and your term. If loving an icon that you were born under, had actual relatives participate in its birth and glory, and is a symbol of the region of your birth, and you choose to fly it and fight for it, then yes, please consider me a member of the Radical Extremists also.
The Confederate Soldier was not a monolithic Caucasian adventure; there were participants from all races and walks of life. Blacks, Indians, Hispanics, Irish, Protestants, Episcopalians, Christians, Jews, Men, Women, and Children. Here is a picture of the Black Confederate on the Arlington National Cemetery Confederate Memorial http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/csa-mem04.jpg , and Gov Sonny Purdue will sign a Confederate Heritage Proclamation honoring a Black Confederate Soldier named Bill Yopp.
I see 3 flags in play here at the Depot, and my opinion will differ from what you have been dealing with as of late, but the flags are
1) Battle Flag of the Army of Tennessee (Rectangle 3×5 – AKA 2nd CS Naval Jack)
2) Hardee Corps/Cleburne Battle Flag
3) Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (Square, 4×4 – General Robert E Lee’s Command)
Now, I believe the square version ANV should fly at the Depot. The Ku Klux Klowns hijacked the AoT flag, but not a single negative event took place under the square version (that was the version that appeared on the 1956 Flag) Of course the Kluxters also use the Stars and Stripes, the Christian Cross and the Holy Bible.
You call the 1956 Flag a segregation flag. In my research, I find nothing of the sort. Here is my research on that subject:
On July 1st, 1956, Georgia Senate Bill 98 took effect. SB98 was signed into law on February 13th, 1956 by then-Governor Marvin Griffin, and it called for a new design to the Georgia State Flag.
What is now commonly referred to as the "56 Flag" was created by a suggestion from Atlanta attorney John Sammons Bell, then-chairman of the State Democratic Party, attorney for the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), and later Judge on Georgia Court of Appeals. His desire was to "forever perpetuate the memory of the Confederate soldier who fought and died for his state."
The flag it replaced was designed by Waynesboro State Senator and former Confederate Colonel Herman H. Perry in 1879, based on the 1st Flag of the Confederacy, AKA Stars and Bars. Similar to our current flag, it had 2 red stripes and 1 white stripe, and a field of blue down the left side.
By 1955 however, people like Representative Denmark Groover argued at the time that the old flag never had enough meaning for him when he was a boy and that the new flag “would replace those meaningless stripes with something that has deep meaning in the hearts of all true Southerners"
Others like Senator Jefferson Davis of Cartersville also argued that the state should be entitled to adopt the new flag, because “Georgia suffered more than any other state in the Civil War and endured a scorched earth policy from the mountains of Tennessee to the sea.” SB98 was discussed and passed with little fanfare, and became law on July 1st, 1956.
It is a fact that under the 1879 Perry version flag, Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, and blatant discrimination were widely practiced and flourished in Georgia, as well as across America, but it is also fact that Georgia’s greatest gains in Civil Rights came under the "56 Flag".
Under the 1956 Bell version flag, Georgia’s schools were fully integrated, Black citizens were no longer lynched, they began enjoying full civil and equal rights in business, political, and social settings. Georgia gained 3 professional sports teams – Falcons, Braves, and Flames – hosted 2 Super bowls, held the 1996 Olympics, and set the pace for the New South.
Georgia based troops took the "56 Flag" with them onto the foreign battlefields of Viet Nam, Grenada, Beirut, Bosnia, and Desert Storm, and just as their Confederate ancestors before them, fought and died for their homes, families, and flag. Millions of Georgia citizens aged 5 to 50 were born under that flag.
In 1958, the United States Congress passed laws granting the same rights and recognition enjoyed by Union Veterans to men who served in the Confederate States Army and Navy. To this day Confederate Veterans are United States Veterans.
Unfortunately, the 1956 Bell version flag had it’s enemies. Attempts at claiming the "56 flag" was changed to fight integration a long 2 years after the Brown vs. Board decision helped begin the BIG LIE that remains to this day. Although the historical facts are out there that plainly refutes this, truth means little for those with agendas.
Concerning those who claim that the flag was "… designed as a last desperate grasp of defiance against integration." Judge John Sammons Bell said "Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth … every bit of it is untrue." He further stated that "Anybody who says anything to the contrary is wrong or perpetuating a willful lie." Plus in the year 1956 several newspaper accounts of the proposed change in the GEORGIA FLAG were published. In none of the articles was there any hint that the flag change was for any reason other than that stated by the gentlemen who proposed the change.
Former Governor Ernest Vandiver said "I can assure you that there was no discussion of segregation or of the U.S. Supreme Court. All that was discussed was the coming centennial of the Civil War and this flag was meant to be a memorial to the bravery, fortitude and courage of the men who fought and died on the battlefield for the Confederacy. More Americans died in that war than any other war in the history of America, before or since."
In April 1992, the Atlanta Journal Constitution conducted a poll of 43,000 people, and their results were that 75% of citizens wished the "56 Flag" remain as is.
Then on July 5th, 1992, the Atlanta Journal Constitution released the results of their own investigation into the flag change of 1956:"There is little written record of the 1956 Legislature and no audio record. News stories about the change were few. In none of our research did we find any record of a stated connection between changing the flag and opposition to desegregation rulings."
On Thursday, September 26th, 1996, during the annual Carter Town Hall Meeting at Emory University, Former United States President, Georgia Governor, and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter stated, "’We should take the attitude that this (1956) flag is not racist in nature and the fact that the flag does play a major role in Southern history is a legitimate historic recognition."
But the lies grew and multiplied. Another bit of untruth was that somehow the flag was "Bad for Business", and although the previously mentioned sports franchises and events came here under the "56 Flag", businesses like Home Depot were created here, Coca-Cola thrived and truly went global. Hartsfield Airport became the biggest in the world and 3 Interstates were built. Foreign companies built numerous plants here, and the economy was booming. The "56 Flag" was seen in movies like Smokey and the Bandit, and on TV shows like Matlock. Regardless, truth was ignored and facts tossed out the window.
In 1994, James Andrew Coleman filed a Federal Lawsuit against then Governor Zell Miller over the 56 Flag. Mr Coleman lost the suit and the flag remained, but once again Denmark Groover stood up to the plate, and in his deposition under oath he stated "I have no personal knowledge which would dispute the purely historical motives which were expressed then and since by the sponsors and others involved with the legislation when it was introduced in the Senate. While I cannot say that the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding desegregation played absolutely no role in my decision to support the bill in the House, I can say that segregationist sentiment was not the overriding or even a significant factor in my vote concerning the new flag, or, based on personal observation and knowledge, in its ultimate adoption by the House….”
It all finally came to a head in January 2001, when Ex-Governor Roy Barnes Blitzkrieged the legislature with threats, lies, and intimidation. Having ran on a campaign not to touch the flag, and just finished an interview on CNN in October 2000, stating the flag was not an issue, his flag change happened so fast not even most legislators knew what was happening. Those who voted with him received extra money for their campaigns and districts, those who refused were stripped of funding, or even in the case of Bowdon’s Jack West, had his district removed thru redistricting for voting against the change.
Barnes told Georgians people will forget in 3 months, but Georgians are not as stupid as politicians think they are and voted him and his Democratic party out of power for the first time in 132 years. Roy Barnes was also dropped as a Vice Presidential Candidate option from the 2004 National Democratic Ticket. Under the Barnes Rag, our school children were dropped from 49th to 50th in education rankings, and the economy tanked. Barnes even lied about securing the infamous Mercedes Benz plant.
In what must surely be the most idiotic action by politically correct anti-Southern forces in the history of the known universe, the Roy "King Rat" Barnes ‘Ugliest Flag in the World’ (voted 72nd out of 72 by N.A.V.A.) was chosen by only 212,020 people out of nearly 4,000,000 registered voters.
These are the things that have been weighing on my mind. I would like to hear your thoughts on this rather long message.
Thanks and God Bless