By Bob Hurst
Just over ten years ago ( February of 2002, to be exact) the Florida Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) held a dedication ceremony and flag-raising at a site just off Interstate 75 near White Springs, Florida.The large flag being raised on the 100-foot flagpole and the monuments being unveiled represented the second site in our flag placement program called "Flags Across Florida". An earlier ceremony had been held in December 1999 at a site on US Highway 27 just south of the Georgia-Florida line which was about twenty miles north of Tallahassee. This first site was smaller and not on an interstate highway so it didn't get the media attention of the White Springs site, nor of our third state site which was dedicated in April 2009 on I-75 just east of Tampa.
What I well remember about the dedication of the White Springs site was the scathing editorial that appeared in the local newspaper here in Tallahassee. Why, you would have thought from reading the editorial that our flag alongside the interstate would single-handedly wreck the Florida economy by bringing an end to tourism in the state. The editorial raved about the terrible impression the flag would make on all those northern visitors coming to Florida to enjoy our attractions and spend their money. The editorial even asked what would people think of us when one of the first things they would see upon entering the state is a Confederate flag.
I couldn't resist responding to the editorial so I sent a brief communication to the head of the editorial board stating that most of those people would likely think that Florida was a Southern state that took pride in its history and heritage. I also suggested that perhaps she should be more concerned with the impression made on the tourists by a long series of billboards that began on I-75 about twenty miles south of our flag site that featured scantily-clad or unclad young women proclaiming, "We bare all". I wondered if she had a problem with those billboards and the impression they would make on Florida's family-friendly image. I never received a response.
I thought about all this recently when I read on the internet that the Kentucky Division of the SCV was about to dedicate a park featuring a large Confederate Battle Flag flying from a tall pole on a site just off Interstate 24 near Paducah. It always thrills me when I learn of these sites where our Confederate ancestors will be honored. This will also be a very pretty spot where visitors can sit on benches to relax or just enjoy the surroundings. Kudos to the Kentucky Division!
As to be expected, though, as always happens whenever anything concerning the "C" word ("Confederate") is involved, some of the always complaining people will complain and some elected officials can be counted-upon to deliver some smarmy, politically-correct statement denouncing the flag. Some Kentucky officials didn't disappoint. The Judge-Executive (whatever that is) of the county was quoted as saying, "There are people that view that flag with disdain. It's going to be seen by travelers, and we don't need that. That's unfortunate." Not to be outdone, the Deputy Judge-Executive (?) chimed in with, "We would prefer it not being there, of course." (By the way, there was no report of what the "Assistant Deputy Judge-Executive" or the "Associate Assistant Deputy Judge-Executive", or other officials had to say about the matter.)
The nice thing is that the park is located on private property so the SCV has a First Amendment right to fly the flag. One has to wonder, however, considering recent events how much longer in this country any of us will have that right. Incidentally, there are many other sites around the South where heritage groups (primarily SCV divisions and camps) have created these sites where our beautiful battle flag is flown.
I attended the dedication ceremony several years ago for that marvelous site in Alabama which overlooks I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery. There is also another site in Alabama, I am told, near Mobile. I understand that Georgia now has sites on I-75, I-85, I-95 and I-16. I know there is a site in Tennessee just south of Nashville and I have heard that others are planned. When I first heard of the plans several years ago for the Kentucky site, I was told that the Arkansas Division, SCV, was also in the process of locating land near an interstate highway that could be obtained and used for the creation of a park site.
I find all of this to be good news (and exciting, also) and it all shows that there are many people still willing to "ride to the sound of the guns".
Now, I imagine that some of you reading this column were confused when you read the title because you remembered those maps from your history books that showed eleven Confederate states and Kentucky was not one of them. Well, make no mistake about it, there are many reasons why Kentucky can certainly be considered Confederate... Finish reading @SouthernHeritage