What heritage did they mean?

My father used to tell me during my formative years that the words God and freedom are about the two most important words in our language. He also told me that these two words were bonded together by the word love.

On Dec. 15, 2009 I attended the Lake Wales Commissioner’s meeting. I committed an omission sin by remaining silent while the commissioners voted 3-2 to allow the confederate flag occasionally to be flown by some gravesides at our cemetery. This information was published in our local paper. It was said the vote was taken because a call had been received in our city hall, from a private interest group requesting it, and basing the request on a Florida statute that allowed such a display. The heritage aspect also came to the surface during this meeting. I remained silent when I should have raised my voice against such an action. I have reconciled that sin of omission with my God; however, I must explain why I consider it a sin of omission.

Of what heritage was the commission talking about? Were the commissioners talking about pirates going to Africa, kidnapping people and disrupting familial structures, placing the kidnapped in chains, placing them in ships in inhuman conditions, bringing those people to the slave marks of the United States and West Indies, and then selling them as chattel? Is that the heritage the commissioners were talking about?

The most fortunate in finishing the trip, without being fed to the sharks because of death, went through such an experience/ Maybe the commissioners were thinking about the heritage in which the owner used the mark of the “carimbo” to identify his property.

The “carimbo” was a branding iron, used in the West Indies, to identify the slaves so that they could not run away. The slaves were branded in the cheeks, usually with an “E,” signifying “esclavo” – slave in Spanish.

Is that the heritage the commissioners were talking about?

To me a cemetery is a hallow ground. To display any flag, item, adornment, or any symbol that is insulting, or might tend to be insulting to any sector of our population and disrupts the solemnity and order of the place, regardless of how long the display is for, should not be tolerated.

Are we in Lake Wales going to tolerate the display of a “swastika”, or the “Playboy Bunny Flag”, in our cemetery because a request for the display of these flags in made by phone to city hall by private interest groups?

It is about time these requests are fully studied before voting on them. Some of the requests are too controversial, and controversy is something that should not be introduced in the hallow grounds of our cemetery.

Humans make mistakes, I think the commissioners made a mistake.

It think they should bring the matter to the floor once more, reassess their position, visit the request in question, and vote it down, specifically when there is not one confederate soldier buried in our cemetery.

If the confederate flag is to be flown by private interests, it can be flown from the yardarms in the flagpoles that are in front of city hall, or from private residences, but not in the cemetery.

The flag is offensive to one sector of our population in Lake Wales. It reminds this population sector of a not too rosy past, a past that is deleterious to their mental health and morale. The display of this flag in the cemetery will probably be tantamount to psychological torture for it reminds them of slavery; the very symbol imbedded in the confederate flag.

The only flag that should fly in our cemetery is “Old Glory.”

When the public sees that a mistake has been made, the public usually wants it corrected.

If the mistake is not corrected, the public has a tendency to correct the mistake at the ballot box. I say “amen” to that.

“This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn. 15-12)

Manuel V. Crespo