by J. A. Davis
As we at the Georgia Heritage Council consider the appeal from the ruling of the Superior Court in Richmond County (Augusta), it is important we view the seriousness of the decision as it affects both the facts and the law.
It is very easy to say this is just another flag fight. This case has far more reaching implications and potential dangers for patriotic Americans regardless of their heritage or ethnicity.
As one who witnessed the case in Augusta and has poured over about ninety pages of the transcript, I would be derelict to my love for our Republic if some of these danger red flags are not pointed out.
First, consider the Georgia code, 50-3-1. Any fair minded person who reads this section of our law cannot deny it is designed to protect and preserve military monuments, memorials, plaques, historic markers from abuse of any description by anyone including public officials.
There is no denial in the transcripts that the then mayor of Augusta acting without the consideration of the elected commission, ordered part of the historic memorial known as the ‘Riverwalk Flag Terrace’ removed at the request of the NAACP.
The part removed was the Second National Flag of the Confederacy and the plaque identifying its significance in the history of Augusta was concealed.
Judge Wheale of the Superior Court ruled the Flag Terrace had no military connection despite the fact that every exhibit there represented historical jurisdiction from pre-revolutionary days to the present. Georgia law 50-3-1 stipulates "Every force of the organized militia shall carry the flag while on parade or review." True, this refers to the state flag, but it clearly places the Flag Terrace in the military category since numerous flags representing both the state of Georgia, the revolutionary patriots of Fort Moultrie, (the Moultrie Battle Flag) the United States and until the arbitrary act of former Mayor Young, the Confederate States of America. Flags of other nations that occupied the area by military presence are also exhibited.
Each of these flags has or had with them a memorial plaque describing the era they flew in the history of Augusta. Today, Augusta’s Flag Terrace has an historical gap of almost four years since the revisionists of American history have determined to omit what is perhaps the most important period of American history. A period that has had a profound effect on the America we know today.
Judge Wheale also ruled the flags and the plaques are not memorials. He further ruled the Flag Terrace is not a memorial despite the fact that the origins of Riverwalk as a memorial were publicly presented, including the address at the dedication by the then U. S. Congressman who was actively involved in the development of Riverwalk. In his address he described it as a "memorial and a monument."
So you see, it is not about a flag but more significantly, a park with many flags, plaques, and markers, that has historically been described and defined as a memorial.
The Georgia law is pretty plain regarding the abuse of any part of a memorial or monument. This to me, negates the position being taken that "only a flag and plaque were involved." I liken this to removing a portion of a valuable portrait and trying to justify it by claiming only a small part has been removed.
There are some serious potential implications in this decision that go far beyond the typical view of the case. It is much more than a fight over a Confederate flag. If as Judge Wheale stated, "The national flag does not recount military service," how will U. S. veterans be affected? Is the military significance of the national U. S. flag unlike the national flag of the Confederacy?
Ironically, the national flag removed from Riverwalk that has been ruled as non-military was the Stainless Banner. This flag was first used when CSA President Jefferson Davis personally ordered the first use of the new national flag to drape the casket of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. A special courier hand delivered the flag from Richmond to Lexington, Virginia. This story is well known but to me there is personal significance since my grandfather, Hezekiah, was present as a member of the 5th Virginia Infantry, also known as part of The Stonewall Brigade. President Davis is a collateral ancestor.
These days we hear about people who claim to be offended over often trivial daily occurrences. In my case, I’m insulted when someone calls the Stainless Banner "a symbol of hate."
The Second National Flag AKA "the Stainless Banner"
Regarding the decision being appealed I have been asked, "Is this judge one of those activist judges?" You should make up your own mind on that.
Here are some direct quotes from the transcript:
Judge Wheale: "The Second National Flag is a symbol of hate, unfortunately."
Judge Wheale: "It doesn’t matter how I rule, this case will go to appeal."
Judge Wheale: The Second National Flag does not recount the military service of Confederate soldiers."
Judge Wheale: The Flag Terrace is not a historic military memorial."
As we go to the Supreme Court of Georgia we should remember the words of the United States Supreme Court regarding First Amendment cases, which this case remains to be despite the attempts by Augusta attorneys to have the Georgia Heritage Council pleading struck from the record of the case.
Regarding free speech:
"No official high or petty can prescribe what is orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion."
Finally, we believe the Richmond Superior Court erred in the ruling regarding Georgia 50-3-1 and that is part of the Georgia Heritage Council pleading to the Georgia Supreme Court.
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