Date: September 13, 2004 11:13:07 PM EDT


Some of you have already read this. Those of you who have not, should……………VERY good writing Mr. Johnson.

By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
Kennesaw, Georgia 30152

Recently, Mr. H.K. Edgerton of Asheville, North Carolina was not allowed to hold his Confederate flag at a Confederate Memorial statue at the University of Texas. Security guards threatened H. K. with arrest if he did not take his flag and leave.

Was his freedom of speech violated? Our state and federal taxes go to universities. Should these institutions obey the law and be available to ALL our people? Should these tax supported schools be sanctuaries of open-minded inquiry or totalitarian institutions of close-minded indoctrination?

By the way, Mr. Edgerton is past president of the N.A.A.C.P. chapter in Asheville, North Carolina. He is a student of American history and spends much of his time educating the public. He is a Southerner and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania now hosts a new art exhibit by Florida artist John Sims. Like Edgerton, Sims is black. His exhibit depicts the Confederate flag lynched from a gallows. The theme is reported to be, "The Proper Way to hang a Confederate flag" and to contain colors different from the legitimate red, white and blue.

Some say the art display is freedom of speech. However, when Mr. Edgerton stood by a Confederate Memorial with his Confederate flag, he was denied the same freedom of speech. Mr. Sims demeans a symbol of bravery and sacrifice of soldiers who defended their homeland against the invasion by a foreign power. Mr. Edgerton honors the very same symbol.

Which of these two men is the true American? One divides through hate and deceit. One brings us together through reverence and respect. Yes, that symbol has been badly misused by those who hate and divide. That is no reason to demean it for the same reasons. It’s true meaning is not reflected in the "art" of John Sims. If it were, Mr. Sims would have no funding for his exhibit and Gettysburg College would not have an exhibit.

When the exhibit opened , a crowd came to protest Sims’ artistic hate. H.K. Edgerton was there. He wore a Confederate uniform and carried the Confederate flag. He was the true history at Gettysburg because black Confederates did fight beside their white compatriots in that 1863 battle.

Northern and Southern veterans of Gettysburg spoke long ago about this issue. They put down their guns and embraced each other’s flags. General Robert E. Lee told his battle hardened soldiers to go home and be good Americans. Lee’s men were good Americans. There was no resistance like we see today in Iraq. In all of America’s wars since 1865, both flags have fought side by side and the blood of Union and Confederate have co-mingled to make this nation. These flags have become blood brothers.

H. K. Edgerton has kept the spirit of the long departed veterans.

Mr. Sims has not listened to the soldiers nor looked at their parades and reunions in which they again became American brothers. He sees profit in division and hate. Mr. Sims has the right to do that. He has the First Amendment, the support of Gettysburg College and others. Mr. Sims knows how to play the game.

H. K. is not given the right of the First Amendment nor the support of the University of Texas, nor of the rich and powerful. The hypocrisy is obvious.

The hypocrisy will remain. Why? Because those in power are comfortable with the new segregation.

Come with me to the past when all American flags were respected. July, 1863 was hot in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. From July 1st to 3rd two armies fought a struggle for the future of America and thousands died in that battle.

The Federals won, but at a terrible price. It took a long time to bury the dead. Some were never buried. Some where found still clutching their battle flags. In the North and South prayers went up for the dead, wounded and missing. The soldiers who fought there hallowed Gettysburg’s soil and soul.

In 1913 the old veterans met once again, but this time they shook hands as friends. All were members of either the United Confederate Veterans or the Grand Army of the Republic. They brought their families, food, flags and war stories to tell around the campsite.

The flags flew side by side. There were no apologies for past beliefs and none were demanded. All these veterans, who once opposed each other, now came together as countrymen. There was no suppression of Southern symbols, no hateful artwork. These men, who fought for their countries, did not use cowardly methods to degrade their opponents in that war. Instead, they had learned how to again become countrymen.

The Gettysburg veterans said grace to God for the reunion.

That evening more veterans come into camp. The Union hosts were surprised to see black Confederate veterans. Tents had been set up for the black Union soldiers, but no one expected these Southern black men and there was no room.

Immediately these black Southerners were invited to the Confederate campsite and were given tents for themselves and their families.

Black Confederate veterans were always welcomed at meetings of the United Confederate Veterans and they attended all such events. This was the way it was before it became "correct" to hate the past.

When you visit Gettysburg or other such battlefields, take time to walk the site. There are spirits out there and they may just talk to you. You may hear things others do not want you to know.

It is easy to demean the dead when the living will not defend their heritage. Mr Sims, Gettysburg College and powerful people know this. They can get away with it now, but history is not so "correct." It has often recorded how the moral high ground has been eroded by the arrogance of the victors who become that which they hate.

So, there is an exhibit of art at Gettysburg College. There will be those who love the work. They will praise the artist. But the spirit of Gettysburg’s soldiers will not be among them.

Can we save our history and our symbols from such hate? I think we can—and will.

"After all, tomorrow is another day."

Lest We Forget!