Sons of Confederate Veterans Raise Battle Flag

Claire Galofaro, Bristol (Tennessee) Herald Courier, June 7, 2009

The Sons of Confederate Veterans raised a confederate battle flag Saturday evening in Bristol, Tenn. The 25-by-15-foot banner was hoisted on a 70-foot pole on a hillside in clear view of Interstate 81–to serve as a monument and memory to those who fought on behalf of the South.

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About 200 people gathered for the ceremony, semi-circled around the pole on top of a hillside several hundred above the interstate. A dozen or so men dressed as confederate soldiers and among them was a black man named H.K. Edgerton.

“The most discriminated against person in America is the Christian Southern white man,” said Edgerton, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a former president of the NAACP’s Asheville, N.C. branch.

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“This place should be full of black folks,” Edgerton said. “I don’t know why [I’m the only one here]. Maybe your newspaper should have told them to come to celebrate and sing Dixie and salute our flag. It’s a shame white folks and black folks make people think this is an evil flag. This is a southern flag. You can’t attack this flag and call yourself a southerner. You can call yourself a traitor.”

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The Sons of Confederate Veterans is an national organization dedicated to protecting the honor of their ancestors. All are great-great-somethings of a confederate soldier, and they look to the flag as a symbol of that fight.

To many others the Confederate flag is America’s most contentious symbol, likened to a swastika in hateful significance.

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The pre-raising ceremony Saturday included opening remarks and many who attended exchanged certificates of appreciation. Among the presenters was Sheila Hunt, director of the Sullivan County Archives and Tourism, who offered the gratitude of the mayor of Sullivan County.

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“I represent four and a half million black folks who’ve been beat down and would love to be here, too,” Edgerton said. “If they tell you they wouldn’t be, the first thing you ask is where they’re from. Then you tell them to go on back.”

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