Crestview’s tattered Confederate flag replaced

Flag target of past controversy
November 06, 2010
Brian Hughes

The Confederate battle flag has flown for years at a small park in Crestview, where a memorial honors William “Uncle Bill” Lundy, a man believed to have been Florida’s last surviving veteran of the War Between the States.

Recently resident Rodney Sowell noticed the flag was missing, and inquired with city officials, who maintain the park and memorial.

The flag has been the subject of a great deal of controversy and debate, and survived a 3-2 vote of the city council in early 1996, when black leaders called for its removal.

What city officials told Sowell confirmed that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the flag’s disappearance. Citizen complaints about the flag’s tattered and faded condition led to it being struck from the pole.

“Someone had reported the battle flag was very frayed and (Public Works) have taken it down,” Administrative Services Director Mike Wing said.

Earlier this week, former Crestview Mayor George Whitehurst delivered a replacement flag to the city’s Public Works office near the park and it was run up the Confederate Park flagpole by city staff.

“I’ve been doing that ever since they put that flag up,” Whitehurst said.

Although the city maintains the grounds of the small park, it is not responsible for replacing any flags that flutter over it. The United States flag and a Crestview banner, also fly at the park.

“We’ve always put the flag up, but someone brings it to us,” said Carlos Jones, assistant director of Public Works.

At one point, city officials said, Lundy’s descendants had provided the Confederate flags. But more recently, that task has been quietly handled by Whitehurst, who actually knew Lundy well.

“Uncle Bill was a close friend of mine,” Whitehurst said. “He’d get to telling us hunting stories.”

Whitehurst has been guarding the tradition of providing replacement flags for a long time.

“I’ve been getting them for years,” he said. “They called me and I took a flag down to them and the city hung it. … I get the flag and it doesn’t cost the city anything.”

According to “Crestview the Forkland,” Betty Curenton and Claudia Patten’s history of the region, the monument originally stood near the intersection of State Road 85 and U.S. Highway 90. Later, due to traffic congestion, it was moved to its present location on Hickory Avenue at State Road 85 and First Avenue.

Lundy, who died in 1957 at the age of 109, served as a teenage member of the Confederate home guard in Company D, Alabama Fourth Cavalry. He admitted to the “Crestview the Forkland” authors that he had never fired a shot during his duty, most of which was spent as a guard at the Coffee County, Ala., courthouse.

He was discharged in May 1865 at the end of the Civil War.

 Lundy lived near Paxton most of his life, but around the age of 105, moved to Crestview to live with his son Charles. He died four years later and is buried in Almarante Cemetery in Laurel Hill.

A marker was dedicated by the Crestview Lions Club in 1958, honoring Lundy, the state’s last confirmed Confederate army veteran, “and all Confederate soldiers of Florida.”

The Confederate Flag’s flying at the Lundy memorial has survived not only the 1996 challenge from city black leaders, but a 2002 call for its removal from NAACP President Sabu Williams.

Council members were called again to vote on the issue of whether the flag should be taken down and were threatened with “economic reciprocation” if they did not. This time the council voted unanimously to allow the flag to continue flying.

Copyright © 2010 Freedom Communications

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