Students to sit out parade, objecting to Confederate flag riding club carries

By Trish Choate/Times Record News
May 12, 2004

The Santa Rosa Palomino Club doesn’t plan to change anything because of two Vernon students’ objections to the Confederate flags the riding club carries, a club official said.

"That’s the first real complaint that’s been voiced to us," Gene Tyra, drill captain, said.

A brother and sister, Jeremy Todd, 15, and Shelby Todd, 13, will sit out the parade for the Santa Rosa Roundup at 3 p.m. today in Vernon, according to the Vernon Daily Record. The teens view the flags as symbolic of racism.

They asked to be excused from performing with the Vernon High School and Vernon Middle School bands, according to the Vernon newspaper. Instead, the students are to write essays about their thoughts on the flag.

VMS Principal Bill Belew said that Stephen Morgan, music director, had taken care of the matter. Belew declined to comment further.

Tyra said the flag doesn’t make a political statement for the club’s 33 riders.

"We basically use it as color for our precision drills," he said.

The club began carrying the flag in 1954, according to the Web site of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce at www.vernontx.com/palomino.html.

"To the riders, the flag recalls the southern traditions of excellence in horsemanship, daring execution of difficult cavalry maneuvers, and commitment to a single purpose — to bring honor to their hometown by representing Vernon, Texas, as ‘Gentlemen of the Saddle,’ " according to the Web site.

Tyra said he doesn’t consider the students’ objections to be complaints.

"I would just consider this a concern of the students," he said. "They do have a right to their thoughts."

The club performs statewide and can have as many as 50 members, Tyra said.

"We’re looking for a few good riders," he said.

Angela Sharp, the students’ mother, could not be reached Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. The students could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.

Morgan could not be reached Wednesday morning.

Link: http://www.timesrecordnews.com/trn/local_news/article/0,1891,TRN_5784_2880191,00.html