Saturday, May 12th began as most any other day on the Boulevard, where the Va Flaggers gathered to protest the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and their illegal actions in forcing the removal of Confederate Battle Flags from the portico of the Confederate War Memorial/Pelham Chapel, flying a U.S. Flag on a Confederate War Memorial, and encroachment on the R.E. Lee Camp Confederate Memorial Park.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, with temperatures in the high 70’s, lots of sunshine, and a beautiful breeze to lift the flags! We had the pleasure of welcoming first time flagger Everette Ellis to the Boulevard, who carried a flag that flew 50 years ago, during the Centennial of the WBTS.
At one point, late in the afternoon, Cecil “Tommy” Thomas walked over to stand on the corner we call “Camp Grayson”. For months, we stood at this corner, which was a great spot for allowing us to explain to museum visitors what the VMFA had done. Since the March 10 incident with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, we have lost the use of that corner, even though the UDC told us that it is not actually their property. If we stand there, museum guards usually come out and tell us to move. This time, the guards came out of the building, but did not approach Tommy. They simply stood by the museum entrance, communicating with their radios and taking photographs. Tommy stood at the corner with a flag, for about 15 minutes, and Flagger Fred Merridew stood nearby, with a camera.
Fred concluded that the museum had most likely called the police and he and Tommy returned to the sidewalk.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, the Richmond Police arrived. Tommy and TriPp left their flags on the sidewalk and walked towards the museum entrance to use the restroom facilities. The Richmond Police Officers and a VMFA security guard stopped them on the walkway. The link below is to a recording of the conversation. The angry, loud voice you hear at the beginning is that of VMFA museum guard, Robert Harrison. He is the "cause I said so" guard from the confrontation with Flagger Jimmy Jones and the guard who likes to call TriPp and Susan by name and make intimidating comments. The other two cordial voices are the Richmond Police officers. What they have to say about why the VMFA called them shocked even the most battle hardened Flaggers.
It seems that Mrs. Martha Van Scheck, President General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, filed a Trespassing Enforcement Authorization Letter with the Richmond Police just days after the incident in which the UDC called the police on the Va Flaggers for standing on the edge of their curb to take a photo. As you can clearly hear in the audio, the Richmond Police informed the Va Flaggers that, according to the instructions they received from the UDC, “You are welcome…your person…but they don’t want the flags on there,…so just don’t take the flags on there.” They told us that the letter was filed specifically for the Flaggers, to prevent us from carrying Confederate flags on the grounds of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They further stated that by the authority the UDC has granted, Flaggers will be arrested if they are caught carrying a Confederate flag on the UDC grounds. This is in direct contradiction to earlier claims by UDC officials that the issues with trespassing had nothing to do with the Va Flaggers, or our flags.
For those who may not be aware of what has occurred over the past few months, I have posted links to the correspondence between the Va Flaggers and the UDC.
"Thursday in Reidsville was beautiful. I
could not have asked for a better Confederate Memorial Day. I arrived in
Reidsville just before sunrise. The ladies at the Carolina Cafe made a wonderful
breakfast, and I met a familiar friend wile I was in there. It was good to sit
down and talk to the man who has driven by the circle many of times and actually
have a conversation with him. After the delicious breakfast it was off to the
Monument Circle to stand guard and pay my respects to the Confederate Soldiers
of Rockingham County and North Carolina. First, Farthest, Foremost. The weather
was beautiful that morning, it was a nice sunny 72 with a wind just strong
enough to keep my colors flying and my head cool. As the motorist drove by it
was great to see their smiling faces, the sounds of their joyous "thank yous",
the honking of their horns and to see so many with the "Save the Monument"
stickers on the backs of their cars. After lunch, which was provided by the
wonderful people of Mayberry Restaurant, I was joined in the circle by my fello
compatriot Josh, who has been a great friend over the past year. We have stood
together many of times in that circle, and it was an honor to stand with him
again on this special day. Members of HPAC also came out and at one o'clock the
Rockingham County UDC laid a wreath in the circle as they have every Confederate
Memorial Day. Almost 20 people gathered on the corner across from the Monument
Circle, to watch the wreath laying and to pay their respects. It was an
emotional moment for me. So much has happened in that circle and it was touching
to see so many come out to show their support. The local UDC President and Vice
President stood in the circle with us for a while and thanked us for all we have
done to help keep the fight going. We ended the day around 4:30. So many people
had come into the circle to talk to us about how they remember the monument, who
their ancestors were and some who had no idea what we were doing. But they all
walked away smiling, saying to keep up the fight and bring the Monument back.
"Thank you, were working on it", I always say. We will get the Monument back and
I know this is the only Confederate Memorial Day when the Monument Soldier is
not watching over Reidsville. We will get him back up!"
"Sunday was a great day to honor our Southern ancestors in
Winston-Salem for the oldest annual Confederate Memorial Service in the
county in the Old Salem Cemetery. The service dates back 140 years, and
the James B. Gordon UDC camp has host it for the past few years.
As I do every year I started the day by getting in uniform and standing
before the monument in downtown Winston-Salem. It was a warm shady
Sunday morning and I was able to catch the crowds of people as they head
to church. Things were quiet this year as it has given me time to
reflect on the things that have gone on in my life since the last time I
stood at that monument. Reidsville, Lexington, Richmond, so many
stories, new friends and so many missions to defend the good name of the
Southern soldier. As I looked up at the monument that stood there since
1905 It has given great pride in knowing that monument stands in honor
of my ancestors who gave their all. I couldn't help but shed a tear.
As the afternoon rolled around and the departing church crowds were
calmed down by I packed things up and headed for the Confederate
Memorial service just a few blocks down in the Salem Cemetery. For the
first time during the day the sun peaked its head out just in time for
the gathering of the honor guard and the people who had come to pay
their respects. The service was done beautifully as a good crowd and
almost 20 reenactors payed their respects to the Confederate Dead. The
honor roll was called, a speech was given about the 1808 Confederate
Veterans Reunion, the UDC awarded medals to past and present war
veterans, and the honor guard presented an Earth rattling volley over
the resting places of the Confederate veterans. It was a wonderful
As the formal part of the service was over the honor guard continued
their own way to pay tribute to the veterans of the war. As they marched
through the cemetery stopping at notable Confederate officers graves
and presented arms and fired a volley for each of them. After the
volleys were done and the salutes were given the men marched back to the
Confederate plot to pay one last respect for the day. The men fell in,
removed their caps and "In the spirit of our Confederate ancestors who
have gone before us", they sang Dixie.
I stood in the middle of Franklin square downtown and for many hours
paid tribute to our Confederate ancestors from Heard County and
educating passersby on Confederate Memorial Day. It wasn't until
sometime after coverage of his story was posted in the Times Journal, a
local Franklin based paper, on Tuesday that lead to the appearance of
the wreath and 1st National flag at the County Confederate marker. I
then solemnly and proudly placed a Soldiers Flag next to the 7 star
Confederate Government flag that doesn't recognize Virginia, Tennessee,
North Carolina, and Arkansas.
I then solemnly and proudly placed a Soldiers Flag next to the 7 star
Confederate Government flag that doesn't recognize Virginia, Tennessee,
North Carolina, and Arkansas"
Today, April 26th, 2012, is, since 1874 and according not only to
Georgia Statute, but by official proclamation known as Confederate
Memorial Day. The proclamations come from Centralhatchee, Ephesus,
Franklin and Heard County, and are perpetual. On this day, I traveled to
Yellow Dirt Cemetery inside Georgia Power's Plant Wansley to visit the
soldiers, and check on the Battle Flags placed for the 2nd time back in
October 2011. After taking about 15 pictures and being satisfied all is
ok with the graves and decorations thereon, I made my way down to
Franklin town square. In the middle of the square is a large Gazebo. In
'front' of this are multiple panels of engraved bricks with veterans
names and a plaque designating the walls as the Heard County Veterans
Park. I arrived at 1pm, and put on my Confederate uniform and attached
my 4x4 ANV CBF and began walking around the gazebo inside the circle.I
am aware that the old Heard County Rangers SCV camp folded back in
2007-2008, and the only Confederate presence is the small but
respectable Confederate Marker on the 'back side' of the gazebo. It
seems that the citizenry based on my limited time there are starving for
something Confederate. I met with and spoke to 4 women, and all took
pictures of me. 2 said they had heard from their grandmother they had
"someone in their family who fought for our side, in Georgia, uh, they
wore gray!" 1 woman stopped her car in the road and took my picture and
yelled thanks. The other said she was a proud southern woman and related
her experience at a recent reenactment. 2 young boys of about 10 years
of age spent a few minutes with me, one saying he was from Ireland, and I
mentioned General Cleburne. The other said he was related to some
General whose name was Covington, which is what the city west of Atlanta
is named for. I told him I didnt think that General Covington was a
Confederate, but that the TV show "In The Heat Of The Night" was filmed
there. One man approached me and began to make pro confederate comments,
but then told me of his trip to Andersonville and just began trashing
the Confederates, and no matter what I told him (Elmira, Camp Douglas)
he had been reconstructed. Another man said he could join the SCV but
due to it's being so 'radical' he would rather not. Dozens of horn honks
and appreciative waves were the theme of the day vehicle-wise. A few
other folks came by and talked and left educated. One man walked up and
shook my hand and thanked me for being there. Heard County it appears
does need some outreach Confederatly speaking, and I was saddened not to
find a Battle Flag at the marker. Thanks and God Bless Billy Bearden
Haralson Invincibles #673 Sons of Confederate Veterans.
It has been a very busy couple of weeks for the Virginia Flaggers! On Wednesday, April 18th, the Va Flaggers joined the Edmund
Ruffin Fireaters, SCV, at the 64th Annual Shad Planking in Wakefield,
Virginia. 10 Flaggers carried flags in a VERY
Confederate friendly environment! We talked to HUNDREDS of folks about
the Va Flaggers and what we have been doing in the Commonwealth, gave
out flyers and cards, and spoke with political candidates who were on
hand, EXCEPT for George Allen, whose posse made sure he stayed a safe
distance from us and our flags!
We were asked over and over
again to pose for pictures with our flags and support was overwhelming!
Kind of nice to spend an afternoon with so many people saluting,
smiling, and whistling Dixie!
After the photo of Grayson and
Trevor and their Confederate flags made the press last year, signs were
posted to keep flags and flaggers away from the stage, but it did not
stop us from working the crowd, and a great time was had by all.
favorite story of the afternoon...all of the Sherriff's deputies
working the event were black. When I arrived, I had a conversation with four of them working the parking lot/gate. They had
asked me why I was carrying the flag, and I explained about the Va
Flaggers, my ancestors, and my desire to honor them. On the way out, one
of the officers smiled, saluted, and told me to "keep on keeping on". When the others looked at
him, he said.."Hey, I support whatever that lady does!" Several
men were walking near me and were incredulous when they overheard the encounter. They mentioned that they couldn't
believe he just said that. I just smiled and said..."happens to me all
the time..." ;)
************************************************ The following night, Thursday, April 19th,
found the Flaggers back at the VMFA. 11 Va Flaggers were on hand to
stand in protest of the removal of Confederate Battle flags from the
Confederate War Memorial and in honor of our ancestors and our flags.
The weather was good, and while traffic was light, good conversations
were held and the colors were advanced for all passers-by to see.
Just two days later, Saturday, April 21st, and we are back at the VMFA! A
BEAUTIFUL day on the Boulevard, as 19 Va Flaggers gathered to forward
the colors and protest the VMFA. A few of us posed in front of the
Confederate Memorial Chapel, just minutes before security caught us on
the grounds and came out to chase us off.
Traffic was very heavy and at many points during the afternoon, we were engaged in more than one conversation
at a time, and most were VERY positive. We were fortunate to capture a few of these on video...
**************************************** Wednesday afternoon, April 25th found14
FLAGGERS on the Boulevard! Early on,
the sidewalks were packed with Garden Week attendees and these ladies
were almost all very supportive and vowed to "march right in there and
give the museum a piece of their minds". LOTS of good convos!
Later, Jimmy Jones and Frank Anthony Yates tried to recapture Camp Grayson. They were eventually repelled by a couple of
very unhappy museum guards, and the city cops were called to the scene.
They, however we're repelled when Tripp Lewis and Jimmy Jones posed for
pics in front of the squad cars.
In the meantime, Jimmy
Creech showed off his new and improved flag display, had many occasions
to use the dixie horn, and fixed some mean BLT's for the hard working
Flaggers. Fresh pork rinds from NC topped off the evening. Thanks to
EVERYONE who came out to forward the colors!!!!
We were able to get video of the Museum Security removing the Flaggers and another of a conversation at the Chapel...