Saturday afternoon, under a blistering sun in Trimble, a passionate crowd estimated at around 300 from five different states attended the Confederate Battle Flag dedication. The Gen. Otho French Strahl, Camp 176 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans at Parks Cemetery Ridge Confederate Memorial Plaza presented the flag. The site was chosen by its highly visible location adjacent to the new Highway 69 corridor that will run between Canada and Mexico.
The flag, which is 20 feet-by-30 feet, can be seen for several miles in all directions as it sits atop an 85-foot flagpole, and overlooks the Obion River Bottom. It is at the Dyer/Obion county line at State Highway 105, in Trimble. This project is part of a 'Mega-Flags' project that will place the battle flag in prominent locations across the South.
Commander Bill Foster, lifetime member of the SCV, said that the flagpole itself was $13,000 and the flag was around $1,200. The estimated monthly cost of maintenance and electricity will be around $200. Funds were provided by the SCV. The flag will fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be illuminated at night in the near future.
"This particular flag will last about a year before it needs to be replaced," said Foster.
The area will be landscaped and contain a granite marker from the old Richmond Theater in Richmond, Va. The marker will be inscribed to Confederate soldiers and contain the SCV charge. The Richmond Theater is where Jefferson Davis attended plays and John Wilkes Booth was a performer.
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Parks II, of Trimble, donated the parcel of land. The flag is just north of where Mr. Parks' great-great-grandfather had a log cabin, and is subsequently located across from Pierce Cemetery, where 11 Confederate soldiers lie in rest.
Guests were presented with a program and CD entitled "The Truth Concerning the Confederate Battle Flag". They were also able to purchase Confederate ancestor memorial bricks that will be laid in the plaza. The 15th Tennessee, Company E, New Madrid Guards, performed the Presentation of Colors. Guest speakers were Mr. Greg Briggs, Dr. Michael Bradley and Dr. Lonnie Maness. Hamilton Parks II was the day's honoree and received a commendation award and medal.
Maness, retired UTM professor and author, spoke on the fundamental causes of the Civil War, during which he said, "We should never forget our heritage."
Following the speakers was a musket salute by the 15th Tennessee, Company E, New Madrid Guards. Then the Pillow Battery, Company K, 1st Tennessee Artillery, Camp 257, performed an artillery salute. Jan Hensley, president of the local OCR, then laid a wreath. A touching, "I Am Their Flag", was read by Dr. Bradley, Tennessee division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The Retiring of the Colors was done followed by Taps, performed by Scott Reed. Musical guest was Rick Revel, founder of Heritage Keepers of America, who performed "Dixie". Also in attendance was Dennis Strayhorn, whose great-grandfather rode with Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
After the ceremony, Dr. Maness noted that the flag is not a symbol of racism. "The Confederate battle flag is no more a symbol of racism than the U.S. flag, that flew over slavery for 89 years," said Maness. "Slavery was legal in all 13 colonies and the U.S. flag was not considered a racist flag. And surely the Confederate battle flag that flew for only four years shouldn't be considered as such." Also, Dr. Maness said that the Southern states were fighting for state's rights, the right to defend their homes and relatives and for the right of self-determination.
SCV commander Bill Foster stated that the flag is a soldier's flag based on St. Andrew's Cross (the national flag of Scotland), designed to distinguish it from the U.S. flag. "We, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are here to portray the South, not defend it," said Foster.
For more information concerning the Sons of Confederate Veterans visit www.scv.com or call 1-800-MYDIXIE. To purchase memorial bricks call 731-693-4469.
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