It's going to take more than a humiliating public flag removal and a booth denial to stop the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans. In the face of a media fueled outcry and mounting pressure from the Palestine City Council, the John Reagan SCV Camp removed the Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag from the Anderson County Courthouse. Two years later, they were denied a booth at Palestine's Spring 2013 Dogwood Trails Festival. "Too divisive," they were told. "Bad for the local economy," said others.
When you can't display or promote your heritage on public property, what do you do? You use private property instead. In April, 2013, the camp opened a fine Confederate memorial plaza in downtown Palestine, a few blocks from the courthouse and Dogwood Trails Festival. All on private property, not tax funded public property.
The plaza honors Confederate soldiers from Anderson County and the State of Texas. It features historical interpretive markers, bricks engraved with the names of Texas Confederate soldiers, and Confederate flags. The flags include the Confederate national flags (including the flag removed from the courthouse), the State of Texas flag, and the ever controversial Confederate battle flag. During the opening ceremony, a Texas Historical Marker was also dedicated at the plaza commemorating Anderson County during the Civil War.
The Palestine NAACP chapter has protested the new plaza and its flag display. "You can honor the history of your ancestors any other way besides flying this flag," said Palestine NAACP President Kenneth Davidson. "You know what this flag stands for, you know what it means to a lot of people . We do not want this here."
"That flag was hijacked years ago by a hate group that we do not associate with," countered Dan Dyer, President of the SCV John Reagan Camp. "We denounce them. The flags of the Confederacy are the flags our ancestors fought under. We regret that this hate group hijacked the flags back in the 1950's and 1960's but that's not what we're about."
Educational programs will be provided as well as Confederate heritage events at the plaza.
Reflecting on the courthouse flag removal, Commander Dyer said, "Apparently they thought that would be the last time they heard from the John H. Reagan Camp, but that's not in our Southern DNA."