We had ample parking and the use of road footage and an embankment that put us directly in front of every visitor as they arrived and departed.
We set up by lining the road with stick flags, and positioning large flags in stands along the embankment. Grayson Jennings secured several flags with ground stakes and was able to hang a 6x9 at a great vantage point. Bob Harris and Ashleigh Moody positioned themselves with a banner directly across from the entrance and would hold that position for the next 8 hours! Early on,Billy Bearden set up at the main intersection, on a small hill overlooking the county and state police and passing traffic. Passersby loved the Flags. Visitors were mixed about 60/40. TriPp Lewis, Jack Lewis, and Karen Cooper joined him at various times. He also placed 3 stick flags on a nearby chain link fence, visible from the road, since the MoC was not going to fly any on the grounds. He stayed on the hill until the SCVMC arrived, waving his flag as they drove by.
A museum official approached and asked what group we were with. When we told her we were the Va Flaggers, she began to scan her clipboard,looking for our group to determine our place in the line up. We told her we were pretty sure we were NOT on her list.
When it dawned on her that we were THE protestors, she proceeded to inform us that the museum was expecting us and had set aside an “area” just for us. We thanked her for the offer, but told her we liked the position we had taken. She then told us that she was sympathetic to our cause, believed that the cause of the flag ban was political correctness and was not right, but that law enforcement would be coming to make us move. We assured her that we had permission to use the land and that the side of the road was a right of way, and that we would NOT be moving. She left without satisfaction, calling over her shoulder “Blessed are the Peacemakers!” We reminded her that peace could be made very easily. All they needed to do was run a Confederate flag up one of the poles and we would pack up and go away. She said she would take our message back to her boss.
We never heard from any other museum officials.
The Mechanized Cavalry arrived around 9:00. What a beautiful sight and sound as they rolled in! Mechanized member Tracy Wright brought signs that displayed our messages for all to see. We spent the next hour greeting guests, employees, and visitors as they arrived.
Before the ceremony and processional started, Susan Hathaway was interviewed by Channel 13 Lynchburg.
At this point, there were about 59 Flaggers on the embankment
Just before the Processional opened the ceremony, the MD Color Guard arrived, in spite of the request by the Commander-In-Chief to boycott the ceremony. Ironically, we were positioned on opposite sides of the street, directly across from each other. No negative comments were vocalized to either passerbys or the color guard across the road from us that could be heard. All Flaggers conducted themselves with the honor and dignity due the ancestors and flags we were representing. Outsiders and detractors (even some within our own Heritage community) predicted trouble, but they were sadly mistaken.
At 10 a.m., the Maryland led guard began to march up the road to the MoC. After they entered, the gates were shut, and the SCV Mechanized Cavalry lined up and marched across, with Flaggers included. We walked around the gates unmolested and wound our way past the crowd, who turned and cheered as we passed, and took position within 20 feet of the attendees. Billy tried to approach, but was stopped, we can only assume due to his flag. Susan approached and was also stopped, but only temporarily as she took photos. We held our position at the rear of the crowd and stood silently during the ceremony.
THEN, during the speech given by Bud Robertson, the SCV Banner Plane arrived! It was low, loud and fairly distracting. Many stopped listening and turned cameras skyward to take pictures of the slow moving "REUNIFICATION BY BAYONET SCV 1896"
As the U.S. and State Flags were raised on the grounds of the “Reunification Promenade”, a giant Battle Flag was also being raised, just across the street and in open view of all. Cheers were heard from the flaggers, as well as the museum crowd when it reached full height! It was a glorious sight to behold! Seen below is MoC member Dick Knight, who assured us that a flag would be up, on the grounds before years' end. "Money talks", he said.
After the service, the Mechanized Cavalry made its way to the Reunification promenade and stood in silent and gallant protest. From our vantage point across the street, it made a beautiful sight!
It was also during this time that Susan Hathaway was interviewed by a reporter from the News Advance. The resulting article was picked up by many newspapers, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch. HERE
Flaggers ate their packed lunches in shifts over the next hour, while a good crowd was always seen on the embankment.
Afterwards, Billy Bearden and Susan Hathaway made their way over to take a look inside the museum. They encountered no interference, and were free to walk around the grounds with their flags. After viewing the exhibits, they took off their Va Flagger badges and asked an employee what was going on with the people standing out there with flags. Her response was almost ENTIRELY inaccurate.
She stated the protesters were mad because there was no Confederate flag flying (true), and that they wanted the US Flag taken down (NOT true). She said the Museum did not want to fly the flag because Appomattox was all about reunification (NOT true), and that the protesters insisted on flying a Confederate Battle Flag (NOT true) which had so many “bad things” associated with it.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with Flagging and great conversations with those who came to see what all the flags were all about! The Mayor of Appomattox, having heard from Commander Givens personally, stopped by to chat with us. He told us that he definitely personally supported a Confederate flag being flown, but was unsure about how to effectively make it happen.
Throughout the day, we would count Flaggers, who traveled from a total of 6 states, including Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and, of course, Virginia! By day’s end, we had recorded the names of 89 folks who came to stand with us! Reaction throughout the day was overwhelmingly positive. Most people who were unaware of the fact that Museum officials refused to fly a Confederate flag, thought it wrong and agreed with our protest.
The VA Flaggers gave a rousing cheer as the men of the of SCV Camp 1694 "Flat Top Copperheads" arrived at the museum late in the day, after drilling nearby. Many of the men of this camp are also re-enactors with the 1st Stuart Horse Artillery. They were scheduled to have a bronze 12 pounder fire rounds as the ribbon was cut to open the MOC. After all the turmoil and refusal of the MOC to raise a Confederate Flag, they withdrew from participating. Blaine Hypes met with Linda Lipscomb on 3/27 to inform her of their decision. It was an honor and privilege to have them join us for dinner at Granny Bee’s, where food, fun, and fellowship were plentiful!
Since Saturday, we have had almost universally positive press. Our Anti-Confederate blogger friends have had so much trouble with finding anything to post about us, that they have resorted to pulling controversy out of thin air...
Following what turned out to be a WILDLY successful day for the Va Flaggers and the SCV, where 89 people gathered to stand with flags against the Museum of the Confederacy and its refusal to fly a Confederate flag on the grounds of the new museum at Appomattox... without even the SLIGHTEST HINT of any kind of controversial behavior, our friends in the Anti-Confederate blogger world were reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel for subject matter for their troughs, I mean, uh, blogs.
Yes...with no rude behavior from the Flaggers, and rousing support for our cause from attendees, MoC employees, and even law enforcement, these folks have decided to play the "animal cruelty" card, claiming that we somehow "spooked" the horse ridden by the man who was portraying Gen.Grant just before the re-enactment of the surrender. Seriously? Is that the best they've got? Here's the scoop:
Billy Bearden and Susan Hathaway were finishing a tour of the museum and decided to walk back across the street through the gate. As they approached the gate, they saw the men and horses heading their way, separated, and stood back, on either side of the gate. If one bothered to pay attention to the video, he/she will notice that the first three horses pass by them with no trouble. When Grant started to pass, it was obvious he was having a bit of trouble with his mount. It is ALSO obvious, if you actually WATCH the video, that Susan backs up slowly, and put the fence post between her and the horse. Contrary to what these bloggers want everyone to believe, the LAST thing on her mind was spooking that horse. Her retreat was to get as far away as she possibly could without adding to the horse's jitters.
Many, many thanks to all those who came out to stand with us! It was, by far, the largest and most successful gathering for the Va Flaggers to date. We signed up many new folks, and talked with several locals in the Appomattox area about continuing the Flagging at the museum beyond this first effort. It appears that the Appomattox branch of the Virginia Flaggers may soon be forming! Special thanks to Commander
Givens and the SCV National General Executive Committee, for sponsoring the banner plane and their ongoing efforts to encourage their members to act against the museum, and to the Mechanized Cavalry for their
HONOR THE SOLDIER!
FLY THE FLAG!
Additional media links:
Photo album HERE