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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: THE CONTINUING BATTLE

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


By Bob Hurst

It is certainly never dull being a Confederate sympathizer. All I have to do is read a newspaper, watch television or go on the internet and it is brought home to me time and time again how many people there are who truly appreciate Southern and Confederate history and heritage and how many there are, mostly of the politically correct variety, who would like nothing better than to eradicate that whole part of the American experience.

The last month or two have provided a number of "ups" for those of us who cherish our culture and also some hurdles to be overcome in our constant struggle to protect our heritage from the (sometimes seemingly maniacal) practitioners of political correctness.

First, from the positive side. For the third straight year the Sons of Confederate Veterans participated in the Florida Forest Festival in Perry. Our float and marching units (color guards) were extremely well-received by the crowd and for the third consecutive year the Perry Camp float received the Grand Marshal's Award for the parade. Likewise, our living history participants at the "Cracker Cabin" were visited by hundreds of people who were interested in and appreciative of the displays and performances.

The SCV also participated in the Veterans Day Parade in Tallahassee. We have been in the parade for several years now and it all began at the invitation of the American Legion Post in Tallahassee. This was our first opportunity to show off our newly-painted and improved Florida Division float with cannon and again the crowd reaction was extremely supportive. The people love us here even if the politicos don't.

We have received an invitation to participate once again in the Camp Gordon Johnston Reunion Weekend Parade in Carrabelle in March. This has been a wonderful experience for us each year we have participated. It is so heartwarming to see those great older gentlemen who fought for the country in World War II come to attention and salute as our flag-festooned float goes by. This parade is truly special for me since my father received his amphibious training at Camp Gordon Johnston in preparation for the D-Day invasion at Normandy where he went ashore with thousands of other great Americans soldiers. Each year as I gaze upon these American heroes in the crowd, many now in their 80's (my dad is 87), I feel a special surge of pride for them and also a sense of sadness that we, as a country, seem to have changed so much from that time when our greatest generation exemplified the American ideal.

Another big "up" is that our Confederate Park in Tampa is moving right along and the dedication of the park and gigantic Confederate Battle Flag is set for April 25, 2009. This will be a wonderful facility and the flag will be the largest Confederate flag flying anywhere in the world. We are still raising money for this outstanding project and it will certainly be a facility that all Southerners (actually all Americans) can be proud of when it is completed.

So, everything seems to be going swimmingly for the Southern movement. Well, not exactly.

Although our Veterans Day parade in Tallahassee went well, the event in Knoxville, Tennessee was a maddening experience for the SCV camp there. After being told they could march in the event, the camp was notified shortly before the parade that they could only march if they did not carry any Confederate flag. The camp said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Marty Everett, Chairman of Special Events for Knoxville American Legion Post 2, was quoted as saying: "Pure and simple. The American flag and the Tennessee flag are the only governments represented in the parade. The bottom line is that the parade is to honor veterans of the United States Armed Forces and we don't allow anyone else to use the parade to further their cause."

No, Mr, Everett, the bottom line is that on May 23, 1958, Public Law 83-425 was enacted by the United States Congress. Section 410 of this law mandates that all Confederate veterans are recognized as United States Military Veterans and deserve all rights and privileges pursuant to such service. I certainly hope the American Legion post in Knoxville wipe the egg off their collective faces and allow the SCV unit in the parade next year.

At the same time this was happening in Knoxville, an old ugly sore raised its head again in Jacksonville, Florida. Since 1999, a group of the always complaining people have been trying to get the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School changed. Forrest, of course, was a great Confederate cavalry leader and true hero to millions of Southerners. Again this year the Duval School Board considered a name change and again it was rejected. The school board vote was 5-2 and along racial lines. The two black members of the board vowed that the issue will come back. In a vote of the student body, 53% of the students did not want to change the name (about 2/3 of the white students did not want the name change). Each year that the question has come up, the SCV has mounted a defense of the name.

Interestingly, Mayor John Peyton of Jacksonville and Jerry Mallett, Executive Vice-President of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, both sounded disappointed that the name change failed. They seemed to think the name would somehow hurt Jacksonville's business growth. Yeah, right, just like the Georgia State Flag that was patterned after the Confederate Battle Flag and flew from 1956 right into the new millenium really had an effect on limiting Atlanta's growth during the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. That city only became the largest in the South while that flag was flying.

The wisest comment made by anyone regarding this situation was made by incoming board member W.C. Gentry who said, "So do you make decisions based on how you're going to be covered by the New York Times? I don't."

Thank you, Mr. Gentry.

My feelings are actually mixed on this situation since Forrest High has now become a typical urban school with all the dysfunctionalities associated with that type facility. The demographic mix is far different now than it was 40 years ago when some friends of mine attended Forrest and it was a good school. Sadly, now, it is rated an F school by the State of Florida and I'm not sure if it honors General Forrest to have his name on such a school. Incidentally, as I sit here in my library / computer room writing this article, I am looking directly across the room at a bust of the magnificent Forrest.

One thing is for sure. If the group of complaining people get their way eventually on this school, then Robert E. Lee High School, Kirby Smith Middle School and a host of other Jax area schools will come under attack. Who knows, even the name "Jacksonville" might be deemed too politically incorrect for this new and changed country in which we now live.

Another "downer" occurred during November when the Col. Harry Gilmor Camp of the SCV was told that, for the first time since 1988, it could not use a hall on the campus of Johns Hopkins University for a reception following a ceremony in a Baltimore park to honor Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Dennis O'Shea, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs, speaking for President William Brody of Johns Hopkins, said: "We choose not to have a Confederate Battle Flag carried across our campus, particularly at that time of year, so very close to the Martin Luther King holiday."

So there you have it. I suppose next the descendants of Gen. Lee and Gen. Jackson will be asked to offer an apology for their ancestors who committed the unpardonable sin of birthing two sons who grew up to be heroes and have birthdates that conflict with that of some guy who was born a hundred years later.

The up side to this slight by Johns Hopkins, however, is that a poll taken by the Baltimore SUN indicated that of those who voted in the poll, 77% (1335) opposed the decision by Hopkins while only 20% (354) supported it. In a poll taken by the student newspaper, 97% opposed the university decision and only 3% supported it.

Finally, some sense and nonsense from high schools. First, the nonsense.

In Reeltown, Alabama some black students wore Obama T-shirts to school the day after the election and taunted the white students at the school. Principal Tom Cochran actually said the taunting got out of control. The next day a group of white students wore Confederate T-shirts to school. Cochran disallowed the wearing of the shirts and sent a note home to parents saying the Confederate shirts were forbidden at the school. He then issued a statement saying he could not prevent the Obama shirts from being worn but by allowing them he hoped the students would learn a lesson in tolerance. Huh?

Now the good sense. At the Arkansas Class 7A State Highschool Football Championship game played in Little Rock, Fort Smith Southside High, nicknamed "Rebels", had a dance corps with the band called the "Dixie Belles" and the band actually played "DIXIE" at the game.

Wow! It's good to know that there is still someplace that is yet unpolluted by political correctness and that the beautiful and joyous "DIXIE" can still be played in public. Reading that on the internet really made my day.


Bob Hurst is Commander of Col. David Lang Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Tallahassee and is the 2nd Lt. Commander of the Florida Division, SCV. Contact him at


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