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Commentary in Roanoke Times, 7-10-2015 by Greg Eanes
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015 2:00 am
Greg Eanes Eanes is a retired
Air Force Colonel and served multiple combat tours. He carried a personal
Confederate battle flag in every overseas campaign. He is also a former member
of the Crewe Town Council and Nottoway County School Board and is the author of
several historical works.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe appears
to be playing a dangerous game with racial politics that could have a whiplash
effect on the state’s Democratic Party in the fall elections and could
negatively impact Virginia’s
vibrant Civil War tourism industry.
McAuliffe is using the Sons
of Confederate Veterans battle flag license plate as a target for government
discrimination in order to mobilize his voter base for the 2015 and 2016
elections. McAuliffe has ordered the DMV to cease issuing the SCV license plate
with its logo; has denied the SCV the opportunity to renew its lease on the
Confederate Memorial Chapel in Richmond;
and has refused to issue a routine Confederate Heritage and History Month
McAuliffe is laying
politically inspired bait to orchestrate reactions. He wants to win the 2015
General Assembly elections and likely wants to position himself as Hillary
Clinton’s running mate or gain a cabinet position. He also is doing to flag
supporters what zealots routinely do to minorities: isolate, alienate,
scapegoat and deny them privileges of citizenship that others enjoy.
Vanity license plates are
not “rights,” but it can be argued they are “privileges” for honest folks. Why
should any law-abiding organization be denied a privilege of citizenship? If
the SCV can’t have the license plate with its logo, then the state should get
out of the vanity license plate business altogether.
One would also think Virginia’s $2 billion
Civil War tourist industry would give the McAuliffe team cause to pause before
they make it harder to promote that industry. Politicians need to understand
that “Blue plus Gray equals Green,” the color green being the tourism revenues
that support jobs for Virginians across the state.
An estimated 70 million
Americans are descended from Confederate veterans. They are part of the
nation’s multi-cultural fabric. They’re proud Americans. They are not
re-fighting the Civil War. They are exercising their civil rights. This is not
1865 or 1965. This is 2015 and the real issue for them is the protection of the
“privileges” of citizenship as well as the sanctity and protection of the war
memorials to their honored dead — memorials which many lately have called to be
removed or destroyed — just like ISIS is destroying the historic relics in the
Middle East or the Afghan Taliban destruction of Buddha statues in Bamiyan. The
Confederate memorials are erected to American soldiers, and were so recognized
by multiple presidents and, more importantly, their Union counterparts.
Robert E. Lee and Stonewall
Jackson were the inspiration for great World War II leaders. Douglas MacArthur,
son of a Union hero, took great pride in his mother’s Virginia roots. In a letter to Lee
biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, MacArthur said, “I think you know the
reverence I feel for Lee and Jackson.”
Both Harry Truman and Dwight
Eisenhower kept pictures of Lee in the White House. Truman routinely invoked
one of Lee’s prayers. Eisenhower publicly stated, “From boyhood, I was raised
to respect the word ‘Confederate’ — mighty highly, I might add.”
Pictures of Lee and Jackson
were in the George S. Patton home when he was growing up.
Confederate veterans played
a positive role in the post-war period rebuilding their lives, their individual
fortunes and their homes. Returning veterans today can learn much by their
example. Every town in Virginia
has a story of one or more Confederate veterans turning their swords into
ploughshares and rebuilding their communities.
Theodore Roosevelt said,
“The memory and the valor shown alike by the men who wore the blue and the men
who wore the gray is a heritage of honor for the whole country.” Roosevelt made this statement in the spirit of national
reconciliation, yet today some people of lesser character want to be divisive
and distort the honored battle flag and motive of Confederate soldiers’
sacrifices while denying honest people a privilege of citizenship.
Martin Luther King
envisioned a society where all people would be judged by the content of their
individual character and have a seat at the table of brotherhood — a table that
includes both the great-grandsons of former slaves and former slave owners. The
members of the Confederate heritage community are a part of that table of
brotherhood that King envisioned. They will undoubtedly continue to support
King’s message and use history as a tool to build a better future.
end of Greg Eanes very insightful commentary article
The day after the surrender at Appomattox
April 10, 1865: President Lincoln Asks the Band to Play “Dixie”